Richards High School students met after school on January 31 at the high school, 10601 Central Avenue in Oak Lawn, to make fleece comfort blankets for pediatric cancer patients at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital. (Supplied photos)

Richards High School students met after school on January 31 at the high school, 10601 Central Avenue in Oak Lawn, to make fleece comfort blankets for pediatric cancer patients at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital. (Supplied photos)

Richards students make blankets for kids with cancer

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Richards High School students met after school on January 31 at the high school, 10601 Central Avenue in Oak Lawn, to make fleece comfort blankets for pediatric cancer patients at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital.

By Kelly White

Richards High School students brought warmth and love to those who need it most this winter season.

Under the supervision of Richards Activities Facilitator, Deborah Swanson, 75 students met after school on January 31 at the high school, 10601 Central Avenue in Oak Lawn, to make fleece comfort blankets for pediatric cancer patients at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital at Christ Medical Center, 4440 W. 95th Street in Oak Lawn.

“The best part of this project is that it’s continually evolved into something bigger over time,” Swanson said. “I love that our clubs work together on this project. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people work together.”

The program began more than a decade ago at Richards when a student’s mother who worked as a nurse at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital started a club to make comfort blankets for pediatric patients. Students had so much fun helping out with the project, that the school decided to continue the project ever since.

In the past, this project was organized by the National Honor Society and Student Council at Richards. Last year was the first year, NHS and the Student Council decided to open it up to other clubs to participate.

This decision came out of a President’s Club, a club made up of student leaders, meeting in 2023. When NHS and Student Council had mentioned they were going to be making blankets, a few of the other club presidents asked if their clubs could participate.

“I thought it was a great idea and a great way for our students to work together,” Swanson said. “And, as the Activities Facilitator, I now invite all clubs to participate in this. We challenge all our clubs to complete service projects throughout the year and this is one that we can all partake in.”

A total of eight clubs came together for the fleece blanket-making event, including the Student Council, Bulldog Buddies, NHS, LGBTQIA+ Community & Allies and Chess Club.

The students who volunteered their time were also able to gain service hours.

“I enjoyed that while we were still together with friends and having fun, we were able to make an impact on our community simply by having many kids all work together,” Ezekiel Muñoz, 16, of Oak Lawn, said. “It’s nice and enjoyable while still helpful to others.”

All material for the blankets was provided from donations by the students, who were able to pick out their own styles and fleece blanket designs from fabric at JoAnn Fabric or Walmart. All fleece blankets were handmade by cutting and tying the fleece material together in a square shape to form a blanket. The blanket patterns, which were very colorful, included creative patterns, animal patterns, and favorite cartoon characters or superheroes.

More than 30 blankets were created. The number of blankets continues to proudly rise each year, according to school officials.

The blankets were delivered personally during the first week of February by Swanson and to the Oncology Department at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital. Children within the hospital will be able to pick out their own blanket from the selection.

What I enjoy most about this project is that we can collaborate with our fellow students to create a wholesome experience for the community,” Keanna Figueroa, 17, of Oak Lawn, said. “It gives the school a feeling of happiness along with the kids.”

reporter 2 20 24 richards blankets3

Richards High School students met after school on January 31 at the high school, 10601 Central Avenue in Oak Lawn, to make fleece comfort blankets for pediatric cancer patients at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital.

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