AP NEWS

Homeless in Need of Blankets? Tyngsboro School’s Got You Covered

May 2, 2019

TYNGSBORO -- Fifty middle-schoolers were spread out in groups of twos and threes on the cafeteria floor, spilling out into the hallway with huge squares of soft fleece in front of them.

“Follow the noise,” Middle School Principal Chris Pollet chuckled as he pointed a visitor in its direction.

Tyngsboro Middle School children were busy creating vibrant no-sew blankets that they will donate to homeless people in the area.

Sandy Cassidy, a teacher who was supervising the effort, was pleased and a bit surprised with the response to the project -- not just from the students, but their parents and local residents.

A short article in The Sun, she said, prompted donations of more than 100 yards of fleece from the community.

Eighth-graders were a little reluctant to join at first, but they were fully engaged in the activity on a recent afternoon.

The no-sew blankets are familiar items in craft stores like Joann Fabrics and Michaels. To construct a blanket requires putting the wrong side of two fleece pieces together. Then the crafter cuts them into squares, cuts tabs into the fabric and ties the tabs.

The finished product is a reversible blanket. It might have a bright color on one side and a pattern on the other, or it might have different patterns on each side.

Kristi DeBruin, who is in the eighth grade, said that she and teammates Meshwa Pattl and Ava Anderson had completed three in 80 minutes and thought they’d complete another before they were done for the day. “It’s nice to get to help people who don’t have as much,” said Ava.

Dominick Tinnirella, a seventh-grader, speaking with some emotion about the project said, “I can’t wait for someone to receive it.” He was working on a blanket of puppies on one side and rainbows on the other. He would like other people in the community “to donate and be nice to the homeless.”

Sixth-grader William LoPilato said he was involved in the blanket project as “a way to give back to the community.” He added that people should put themselves in someone else’s place and “try to help even in small ways.”

For eighth-grader Nate Marino, “This was a great opportunity to do something for the community. I’m definitely glad to be part of it.” He admitted he was also having fun.

Anna Poulios, a sixth-grader, said she had already “made a couple at home with my sister. She’s in the third grade and she thought it was easy.”

Completed blankets were piled up on tables near the cafeteria doorway. Cassidy estimated that more than 30 would be done by day’s end and some students would continue making them.

Cassidy retired as an art teacher in 2018 but came back midway through this school year to substitute for a teacher on maternity leave.

A few years ago, she organized a similar, but smaller project. She took the blankets to the Lowell Transitional Living Center on Middlesex Street. She gave some of the blankets away to people standing outside the shelter’s door.

She is not sure yet how she’ll distribute the new blankets.