PRINGLE — It’s just a blanket, the thing you pull to your neck while slouching on the couch watching TV, or rush to get under as you go to bed on a brisk night.
Except these blankets were put together by middle school students and given to a shelter for homeless women.
“It was a chance to do something with friends and to do something for other people,” Rita Palchanis, 13, said with a grin as she showed off one of the blankets she helped put together as part of the SHINE after-school program at West Side Career and Technology Center.
The middle school students in the program made the “no sew” blankets from kits, cutting strips into the four edges of two pieces of material — turning the edges into tassels, essentially — and then double-knotting strips from both pieces, tying them into one double-layer blanket.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Rita’s blanket-making partner, 11-year-old Skyler Stempien, adding the students worked in groups of four or five, doing one blanket a night.
On Tuesday, the blankets were officially donated to Ruth’s Place, a temporary shelter for homeless women that became part of the Volunteers of America in 2013. Kristen Topolski, the former director at Ruth’s Place, who now serves as VOA coordinator for the Wilkes-Barre shelter, told the students about 300 women a year are served by the shelter’s 30-day program. It’s designed not only to provide a place to stay but to help them regain a financial footing and permanent housing.
“Many of the homeless include children like you,” Topolski told the students, adding that any donations are helpful.
SHINE Director Carol Nicholas said the blanket program was the first effort in an idea dubbed “Giving Back through Engineering.”
The next project is to make raised dog beds for area animal shelters, said SHINE assistant director Deanna Drako.
Brought to Luzerne County in 2015 through a mix of public and private funding, SHINE focuses on the “STEAM” subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.
SHINE is short for Schools and Homes in Education. It operated for a decade in neighboring counties before state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Nanticoke, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, helped launch it in Luzerne County, with Wilkes University serving as a higher education host, providing office space and administrative support.
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydishcomments powered by Disqus