For more than a decade, Middlesex Middle School students have been lending their handiwork to making thousands of blankets for area hospitals.
Each one has been overseen by MMS Science teacher Kelly DePiano and dedicated to the memory of Sean James Maloney.
Known as “Blankets for Preemies,” the community service project is partnered with the nonprofit organization The Tiny Miracles Foundation based in Darien. Students make fleece blankets that are given to babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in Norwalk, Stamford, Bridgeport, and Danbury hospitals.
Last week, students on the Navy, Gold, and Red teams got the assembly line in motion. Older students showed younger students how to turn the 1,000 yards of solid fleece, and 1,000 yards of printed fleece, into roughly 500 blankets.
“I loved making blankets for the families in the NICU,” said student Abby Neumann. “It makes me really happy that these blankets are giving hope to those families, and that even one blanket might make a huge difference in people’s lives.”
The project was inspired by DePiano’s personal experience in Norwalk’s NICU. DePiano stayed in Norwalk Hospital for an extended period prior to her children being born prematurely.
“I received beautiful handmade gifts from various volunteers that I still have today, and was so grateful for the amazing care my babies received in the NICU,” she said.
When DePiano’s friend lost her son Sean prematurely, DePiano felt compelled to do something. “I wanted them to know that there are people thinking of them and I wanted this to honor Sean. All our blankets are made in loving memory of Sean James Maloney.”
To fund the project, MMS students raise money for Tiny Miracles, which funds the purchase of the fleece. To date, DePiano estimates more than 5,500 blankets have been made.
— Marc Marin is district director of instructional technology. This article is republished from the Darien Public Schools News of the Week newsletter.