Saline teen gives gift of comfort with handmade blankets
For Emily McCulloch, sewing blankets is her skill, but giving them away is her passion.
McCulloch, a fifteen year old freshman at Saline High School, created Hope Blankets, a website that connects her blankets with children who have various medical conditions. To date, she has given away over 150 blankets to children across the country and around the world.
“I send blankets to kids with special needs: cancer, chronic illness, medical disabilities. In general, to people who need some extra kindness,” she explained. “Right now, I’m making a blanket for a little boy who was a victim of a gunshot who is at Mott (Children’s Hospital) right now. Families reach out to me, and I reach out to them.”
Connecting With People
McCulloch connects with recipients of her blankets through her website and Instagram account. “I follow a lot of prayer pages and awareness pages. Sometimes they ask me, or a lot of times I contact them.” Through the online application process, McCulloch is able to gather information on the child, and uses their special likes and interests to create a custom blanket for them. The finished blanket is either shipped to the child, or hand delivered if they are in the area.
“I just want to be able to send them to as many kids as possible. Right now, it’s challenging because of funding. I’ve done bottle drives and bake sales and t-shirt fundraisers. I want to be able to contact more people and reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing to do is hand deliver them. I really like the face to face and meeting the kids is really special to me. It’s my favorite part.”
Speaking with kids about kindness
Recently, McCulloch was invited by a teacher at a Plymouth elementary school to speak to the students about her mission. “I had a whole presentation put together with photos of kids, a bunch of slides about being kind to people and choosing to make decisions that spread good things to other people, and that disabilities are not always visible,” she said. “I think the kids pick it up better when it’s coming from someone closer to their age rather than an adult coming in to talk about it.”
The students at the school had a fundraiser and donated over $750 in gift cards to Joann Fabrics so that Emily could purchase supplies. In addition, the students also made 18 blankets and donated them to C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital.
McCulloch’s mother, Jenny, is supportive of her daughter’s work. “I think she’s opened our whole family to new opportunities,” she said. “Her Dad and I take her to visits to drop off the blankets and we get to meet the families as well. It’s amazing to see the difference she makes and the way she connects with people. We’re very proud of her.”
Passion for the future
In the future, McCulloch would like to continue helping children by becoming an occupational therapist. In the summer, she volunteers with Hornet Camp, a Saline Area Schools camp for students with special needs. She has also worked with a program called Light Up that offers camps for special needs kids learning how to ride bikes.
“I always liked working with kids and had a passion for helping people,” she said. Every week, McCulloch stitches fabric at her sewing machine to make a positive impact in her community, one blanket at a time.
For more information on Hope Blankets, visit the website hopeblanketsemily.weebly.com or follow Hope Blankets on Instagram @hope.blankets.