Church makes more than 1,000 blankets for Rainbow Room
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Since 2012, more than 1,000 children in Coryell County passing through foster care system and the offices of Child Protective Services have received a special fleece blanket, made with love by the women of Gatesville’s First United Methodist Church.
The volunteers who purchase the fabric, cut it into strips, tie and create the soft, warm blankets were recognized on Tuesday by members of the Coryell County Child Welfare Board and the Coryell County Rainbow Room as well as by the office of United States Rep. Roger Williams (District 25). There was a ceremony including cake, drinks and the presentation of a portrait depicting Jesus Christ with little children to hang in the church.
Don Nicholas, District Field Representative for U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, presented the church volunteers with a certificate of gratitude and appreciation for “their unwavering dedication in providing over 1,000 blankets” on behalf of Williams.
The Blanket Mission, as it’s referred to, started after the wife of the church’s former pastor talked with Jean Firth, who served on the Child Welfare Board until recently. The first 78 blankets were placed on the church’s altar in the sanctuary and blessed before being donated.
“Thankfully, as the demand grew, the blankets grew and so they have continued,” said Holly Jordan, who serves on the Child Welfare Board. “But if you can, think of all the children that have been impacted.”
The Coryell County Child Welfare Board supports families and children in the county and provides emergency aid for the children that are connected through the Child Protective Services, according to Jordan.
When CPS has to remove a child from their home due to unfortunate circumstances such as abuse, neglect, drugs, etc., the children often leave with nothing. Caseworkers can stop by the Rainbow Room in Coppras Cove, a 24/7 resource center full of whatever that caseworker may need for the child, such as clothing or blankets or stuffed animals or even a mattress and bed.
“The one thing they may get is a blanket that y’all have made, and they cling on to that, and I’m sure it goes with them through their life,” Jordan said. “To all of you that have bought fabric and cut and tied and then created these blankets, we’re just so appreciative and we know that there are 1,000 children out there that are just as thankful as we are.”
Rita Burgess, director of the Coryell County Rainbow Room, said she calls the fleece tied blankets “blankets of love” because of the difference they make for a child.
Linda Klontz is the head organizer of the Blanket Mission. She began working on the blankets in 2013 and soon took the reins as the organizer. She said she didn’t want the important work to stop.
“They leave with nothing. At best, they leave with a garbage bag with stuff in it,” Klontz said. “These children are not garbage, and so we do these blankets so that they have something to wrap themselves up in, knowing that somebody somewhere cared, cared enough to give them something that they could call their very, very own, and that it was going to go with them and it didn’t come in a garbage bag.”
Klontz organizes “blanket time” parties, typically lasting four hours at a time, where volunteers can come in and work for however long they’re able to. Klontz calls her fellow volunteers “unknown angels” because often times, the pieces would be cut or tied or more by anonymous people.
On receiving the recognition for the group’s work, Klontz said she was astounded.
“That just lets me know that this really is God’s important work to do,” Klontz said. “There’s no recognition for one person because we all do it.”
Klontz said she hopes the group can make a thousand more blankets.
“We’ll keep on making blankets as long as there are children in need,” she said.