Saint Francis University 2023 Blanket Collection Comforts Many in Need

Melita O'Donnell, Academic Affairs | 11/07/2023

Blanket Collection


From  left: Bridget Hegemann, Rene Gibbons, Samantha Gorman, Melita O’Donnell, blanket coordinator, (Very Rev.) Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D., Melody Ray, Healing Patch Coordinator Kathleen Bickford, Nurse Family Partnership Supervisor and Dr. Lisa Beiswenger.

The Saint Francis University Community Blanketeer collected 275 beautiful quilted, crocheted, knitted, and tied blankets that will be distributed to sick and needy children in Cambria, Blair, and Somerset counties through the Healing Patch and Nurse Family Partnership (Home Nursing Agency), and through Dauntless Fire Company for comfort during emergency situations. Our lap blankets will also brighten the days of residents at Maple Heights Nursing Home/Assisted Living, Cambridge Assisted Living, and John Paul Manor. We have been active on campus since 2006, and over the past 17 years have donated more than 2,993 blankets to local children in need. Each year our blanketeers focus on creating comfy, soft blankets for babies and young children. In 2020, we extended our blanket collection to include lap blankets for the elderly. Thanks to local community blanketeers from Altoona, Hollidaysburg, Duncansville, Cresson, Ebensburg, Johnstown, Loretto, Patton, and Portage for contributing to this year’s blanket collection, and to Dr. Lisa Beiswenger, Stephanie Neff, and Samantha Gorman for sewing the blanketeer tags on each blanket. It is through the generous efforts of so many individuals that this year’s blanket collection was such a great success.

Over the past few years, the Healing Patch has distributed the blankets in "comfort bags" along with various other items (i.e. tissues, journal, picture frame, teddy bear, etc.) to children following the death of a loved one. Additionally, the blankets have been distributed to Healing Patch participants during program activities centered around fears, worries, sleeping issues, etc. to provide comfort during the difficulties and isolation throughout the nighttime hours...a common struggle for many young children during illness or following the death of a loved one.

Providing free, comprehensive educational, homecare, & mentoring services to first-time mothers, Nurse-Family Partnership® registered nurses will distribute blankets to newborns and toddlers within the program.  These special blankets will be used for warm swaddling, tummy play time, and creating cozy snuggles with Mom or Dad. 

For additional information regarding the Saint Francis University Community Blanketeers, please contact Melita O’Donnell at

Founded in 1847, Saint Francis University is the oldest Franciscan institution of higher learning in the country and one of the oldest Catholic colleges in the nation.