Anyone can make a difference. However, it is sometimes hard to find an organization that has volunteer opportunities for young kids. Today’s organization was founded by someone who struggled to find a way to give back, so she made a way.
When Maddie Pelgrim was 10 years old, she was looking for somewhere to volunteer but could not find opportunities for kids her age except for fundraising. She had “no allowance, no job, and hadn’t won the lottery, so clearly fundraising was not [her] thing.” She was very persistent and found a job cleaning animal cages once a week with her mom for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation. This was not her ideal way of giving back, so she kept her eyes open for other opportunities. One night she noticed that the cats had just a thin towel or pillowcase to sleep on. She was curious if this was comfortable so she climbed into a cage and curled up. It only took her about five seconds to know that she was going to make a difference for these animals by making blankets for them. Since its founding, Maddie’s Blankets has expanded to also make blankets for children in foster care and transitional housing situations.
Maddie’s Blankets is based in Oakton, Virginia and has a mission to provide kids, senior citizens, and disabled individuals an opportunity to perform community service. In 2009, the organization became a 501c3 nonprofit as a gift to Maddie from her grandfather.
As of March of 2011, Maddie’s Blankets has donated 8000 blankets in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, California, and Kansas by working with Girl Scout troops, church youth groups, and other community groups. She expects to reach 10,000 blankets in December of 2012.
Maddie has received numerous stories from those who have adopted animals from a shelter that received a blanket along with their pet as well as thank you letters from the rescue organizations. One such note posted on their Facebook page said “Thank you again for the beautiful blankets that our rescue puppies just love! It’s a little piece of home that goes with them when they get adopted.” One young girl dragged her mother to the location that received the blanket she made until she found it in a cage. Then she called Maddie and said, “I found my blankets – this is totally awesome.” In addition, the police officers, foster care organizations, and low-income daycare providers who have given Maddie’s Blankets to children all rave about them and request more.
How can you help?
- Monetary donations are accepted on the organization’s website. One hundred percent of the donations go toward purchasing fleece for the blankets.
- If you live in the Oakton, Virginia area, you can contact Maddie to offer your help preparing the blankets.
- Groups can also volunteer to assemble blankets. Maddie will travel to make blankets with your group. She has gone to senior citizen homes, churches, Girl Scout meetings, and other places where people want to volunteer.
- The organization also accepts donations of fleece. If you have fleece to donate, you can mail it to PO Box 447, Oakton, VA 22124.
On December, 19, 2012, Maddie’s Blankets received their 10,000th blanket! Below is a photo of Susannah Bianco, the maker of the 10,000th blanket with Maddie Pelgrim, the founder of Maddie’s Blankets.