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Blanketed with Love

Local Non-Profit Provides Warmth

Taking the time to make something with our hands to give to someone else is a true act of love. Nancy Cotton of Grosse Pointe Farms knows this well. Her non-profit organization, Blanketed With Love, has been providing hand-made fleece blankets for people in need for over ten years.

Originally founded by her neighbor, Anne Blake, and her daughters, Lilly, Maggie, and Sarah, Nancy took over running it five years ago. "The Blake family started it when the kids were in high school, and I was always super involved because I just loved it," she says. "I have an 11-year-old, Teddy, and a 13-year-old, Colin, and they started doing it with me when they were very little."

Blanketed With Love donates over 750 blankets annually - all made by the loving hands of kids, teens, adults, and seniors. "One of the nicest parts about it is it's truly hands-on and an easy and accessible way for someone to make a difference without having to have a special skill set," says Nancy.

Making the blankets is relatively easy and can be done at any time. "Basically, it is two pieces of felt, and you put the soft sides out, cut them, and tie them together. "You can do it on your own while having a glass of wine or while sitting and watching movies with your family," she says. "Even little kids can do it." If you are a beginner, it might take you 30 minutes to make one. "I usually suggest doing it with a partner, which is more fun because you can chit-chat while working."

Almost every local school, says Nancy, including Grosse Pointe Academy, St. Paul, Grosse Pointe South High School, and Liggett has students making these blankets. "It resonates with the kids that we donate to homeless kids and children who may not have enough to eat," she says. "It is so wonderful how many kids get into this, and it is their way of saying, 'I am so lucky that I have warmth and a cozy home and all the things we need.'"

Making the blankets, she believes, makes them more empathic. One little girl wrote in a hand-made card that sometimes accompanies a blanket, "I know you think no one thinks about you, but I am thinking about you. So do not give up when you get scared."

She also has a group of senior citizens meeting weekly for the last decade at the Helm to make blankets. "It resonates with them because we donate to the St. Patrick Senior Center downtown. So they make blankets for other seniors who may be lonely and need a little love and friendship."

Additionally, Nancy often collaborates with her clients at the two fitness studios she owns, Corner Studio in Grosse Pointe Woods and Corner Studio Pilates and Lagree in Grosse Pointe City. "Last year, anybody who made a blanket for us got a free workout or a sauna." She recently opened Corner Active & Leisure in Grosse Pointe Park.

Blanket-making events are also held throughout the year at venues such as Coreander's Children's Bookshoppe in Grosse Pointe Park, which Nancy owns with her husband, Sean, his brother Mike, his wife Lisa, and Sean and Mike's mother, Shery. She also hosts a blanket-making party yearly at the Country Club of Detroit. "The kids love it," she says. "We serve chicken fingers and fries, and it's just so cute."

"There is the element of specialness that so many of these people we donate to feel a little more seen and thought about versus just giving them a store-bought blanket. I cannot tell you how many little kids have told me that they cannot believe someone even knows about them or that they're cold when we hand these blankets to them. They're so thankful someone made this for them with their own hands." Many of the blankets, especially for children, are seasonal and colorful.

Another thing that Nancy loves about Blanketed With Love is that it's all local since it's important for her and her family to be involved in the community. "My husband recently ran for the school board and won. We're so excited about that. He and I also own the local newspaper, Grosse Pointe News."

She adds, "I think our boys will be entrepreneurs too. My 13-year-old is working on a reptile business." The family includes a Brittany Spaniel named Ruby and a puppy arriving soon.

For those interested in supporting Blanketed With Love, there are many ways to get involved. Volunteers are needed to make blankets, pick up supplies and deliver blankets. Monetary donations and fabric are also always appreciated. To see more, check out their Facebook page.

"We are just trying to spread love," says Nancy.

Some of the organizations receiving blankets:

The Children's Center. Since 1929, The Children's Center has served children and their families with mental health issues, behavioral challenges, and developmental differences.

C.S. Mott's Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan

C.S. Mott's Children's Hospital is a pediatric acute care hospital in Ann Arbor. It's affiliated with the University of Michigan Medical School.

Pope St. Francis Center in Detroit. Located in downtown Detroit, Pope Francis Center provides vital services to people experiencing homelessness.

Christ Child House in Detroit. Since 1948, this state-licensed intensive residential treatment center has provided care and healing for boys ages 6 through 16.

McWarm Center in St. Clair Shores.  In partnership with the Macomb County Warming Center, a part of St. Margaret Church, providing much-needed shelter and meals.

"Many kids in Grosse Pointe are so fortunate, and it's wonderful to see them get into this to
help others."

"It is shocking how many people you will see with our blankets when you drive around Detroit. They are really using them."