• Jane Donahue

Kids learn about generosity by making pet blankets for shelter animals


Falda sat on the floor in front of two brightly colored fleece squares, meticulously tying knots to make a "no-sew" blanket. The 7-year-old doesn't know the cat or dog that will enjoy the cozy cover, but he does know it will make some animal a little more comfortable.

"If the dogs or cats have snugly blankets, they will be more warm and happy," the first-grader said. "I think this will help them."

Falda was one of about 70 first-grade students at Kingsley Elementary School in Naperville who made fleece blankets for rescue animals Tuesday. The covers will be donated to Dog Patch Pet and Feed at 1108 E. Ogden Ave. in Naperville.

"I wanted to do something to help the students learn about giving back to the community," said Kingsley teacher Julie Hennessy, who came up with the idea after a college friend did a similar project with her students. "I was inspired to give it a try here."

The project was a good fit because it's age-appropriate and the students could do it as a group in the school's multi-purpose room, Hennessy said. Joined by teachers Katie Long, Jill Sowell and a host of parent volunteers, the kids created three dozen blankets and received a firsthand lesson in generosity.

"Each month at Kingsley we highlight a different character trait," Hennessy said. "This month we are working on generosity and we talk about how being generous is about thinking about others. Making these blankets was a way to demonstrate that

And the generosity, Hennessy said, started with Kingsley parents, who donated all the supplies and volunteered their time to help the students in their project.

"Our parents and the Kingsley community is so generous," Hennessy said. "I am just floored by the amount of support they give us and am so thankful."

Jenny Lewin, general manager of Dog Patch Pet and Feed, said she is grateful her organization will benefit from the kids' efforts.

"We are glad to have them," Lewin said. "The dogs and the cats love the blankets because they are soft and comfortable."

Based on the smiles around the room, the kids were glad as well.

"I hope it makes the dogs really happy," 7-year-old Lily Ritter said. "I hope they feel really warm."

Hennessy said her hope in the lesson in generosity doesn't stop with the blankets.

"I hope they get that feeling inside that you get when you do something nice for others," the teacher said. "I hope they seek out other opportunities to give back to the community after doing this."

Jane Donahue is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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