Young patients at John. R Oishei Children’s Hospital received a warm and fuzzy gift Friday morning. The good tidings came in the form of thousands of blankets donated by Western New Yorkers.
The blanket drive is part of the #WarmUpWNY project that has seen State Senator Tim Kennedy partner with Kaleida Health. The campaign was launched in 2016.
Many children experience anxiety and discomfort during an unexpected or long hospital visit. The institution has a patient volume, causing blankets to fly off shelves.
During the project’s first collection in 2017, local residents donated 4,000 blankets. This year, over 8,000 blankets were donated, surpassing the campaign’s goal.
Kennedy said something as small as a blanket can make kids feel at home and quell any anxiety during their stay.
“Among all of the chaos and noise and confusion of coming into an alien, hospital setting, that’s different from anything a child has ever seen in his or her life,” Kennedy said. “These small reminders of home help patients to truly catch their breath, and give them a moment of peace.”
Some of the donors were as young as the patients who receive the blankets. Maddie Howell asked friends and family to bring a blanket to her fifth birthday party. She ended up collecting 70 blankets.
More than 40 community partners served as drop-off locations during the campaign which ran from Oct. 1 to Feb. 1. Hospital President Allegra Jaros said the drive produces wonderful outcomes.
“For our patients that are here frequently with us, or for a long time, they bring these blankets with them. [The blankets] become part of what comforts them, and it really makes a difference to their lives and the experience they have here in the hospital.”
Community leaders attended Friday's news conference, including Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.