- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

ALGONAC, Mich. (AP) - Tying a knot can be tough when your fingers are tiny and you’re still in kindergarten.

But kindergartners and first-graders at Millside Elementary persisted earlier this month, The Times Herald (https://bwne.ws/2m9dXfc ) reported. With the help of staff members and volunteers, they made 40 fleece blankets for kids to use while they’re in the hospital and to take home afterwards.

Millside Principal Melissa Hanners said students are required as part of the Leader in Me program at the school to participate in a service project. They decided to adopt the Fleece and Thank You project, which is based in Novi.

The goal of the project is to provide kids at children’s hospitals in Michigan and northern Ohio with a warm and snuggly fleece blankie to make their stay a little less frightening.

Hanners said the students were inspired by two of their classmates facing health issues.

“They had a change war and the kids also hosted a spaghetti dinner, and they raised over $1,000,” she said.

Nich Kristock started Fleece and Thank You in October 2015. He said Fleece and Thank You is the major supplier of fleece blankets to 24 children’s hospitals and care units in Michigan and northern Ohio.

“We do 10,000 to 12,000 blankets a year,” he said. “Our goal is to get to 25,000. That’s how many children get sick in the state of Michigan annually.”

Each blanket includes a tag that tells the recipients who made the blanket and where they can find a video of the blanket being made.

“For a lot of kids, they start their hospital treatment just looking at a plain white hospital bed, and they lose a lot of connection with the outside world,” Kristock said. “So first and foremost, we give them something comfortable to wrap around themselves in for their battle, and we also give them a friend in this video message so they can have a connection outside the hospital walls.”

John Strycker, Algonac superintendent of schools, said the Leader in Me program’s intent is to give students a foundation of life skills.

“If we can teach these kids the fundamentals of leadership at a young age, that’s a strong foundation for them to build upon,” he said.

He said one of the draws of the Fleece and Thank You project is the students were able to help other kids their own age.

“It’s really neat that they’re doing these blankets for children in the hospital,” he said. “You can’t have too much kindness.”

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Information from: Times Herald, https://www.thetimesherald.com

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