Global Studies Students Make Blankets for Children in the Mooncrest Community
As the cold weather sets in for the season, Senior School Global Studies students collaborated with School Registrar Debbie Mankowski to make blankets to help keep children in the Mooncrest neighborhood in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, warm this winter.
The project began in October, long before the temperature started to dip, when students in the Global Studies Certificate Program were discussing projects to get involved in. “We came across an interesting opportunity. We talked to Mrs. Mankowski and found out that every year she makes fleece blankets that are donated to the Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs (MNP),” said Milla, a sophomore who organized the project.
Mrs. Mankowski began her relationship with MNP in 2013, when a friend invited her to serve at a pasta dinner. “At the pasta dinner, one of the little youngsters came in and wrapped their arms around my friend's legs (a substitute teacher for the Moon Area School District), hugged her so tight and said, ‘Oh Miss Cathy, I was so hungry and cold.’ She turned and looked at me, and we were both overcome by this, and I knew I had to do something more than helping serve this pasta dinner. I offered to make a fleece blanket for every child in the program. I did not want any child to be cold when I could do something about it,” Debbie recalled.
The Programs, operated by the Felician Sisters [of North America], include an after-school program focused on providing a safe and positive environment for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. “Many of these children and their families find themselves in difficult financial situations coming into the winter season, and do not have the materials to get through the cold weather,” Milla explained. That’s why the blankets serve a need. They are donated to MNP to help keep these children warm.
There’s a popular saying, “Think globally, act locally.” Milla is passionate about global studies, but realizes the importance of acting locally. “I believe that while it is important to recognize global needs, it is just as vital to recognize and address the needs of those in communities surrounding our own. Mooncrest neighborhood is located about three miles away from Sewickley Academy, and many families there find themselves in tough financial situations, similar to the situations that those in other countries also face. It is important to raise awareness for both global as well as local issues, because some local communities find themselves in dire need, and these issues should also be faced and acknowledged,” Milla shared.
Milla’s eyes were opened to the needs of local people while participating in service camps over the past two summers in the Pittsburgh and New Castle areas, so she wanted to share her perspective with her classmates. “I decided to involve my peers in this experience because I believe that everyone should learn that sometimes, in order to find people in need, we needn't look further than our own backyards,” she said. “Reflecting on and acknowledging what I learned during my camp experiences, I feel as though learning more about the people in our own communities is important, even for those involved in a “global” studies program.”
While this project will make a significant impact on children in the community, the preparation was seamless – literally. The blankets were made from soft, fleece fabric that required cutting along a pattern and tying knots, no sewing was necessary. Students in the MNP shared with Mrs. Mankowski some of things they like, so she selected materials with specific children in mind. Some wanted blankets with kittens or footballs in pink or blue fabric. Mrs. Mankowski hosted a blanket- making workshop on the art of making fleece blankets during a lunch period with 15 Global Studies students in attendance so they were prepared to for the main event on Saturday, November 16. The group made 18 blankets and plan to gather again to make additional blankets to help reach Mrs. Mankowski’s goal.
“By participating in this experience, we were able to better learn about those in our own community and how we can use our skills and opportunities to help them,” Milla said.
The Mooncrest community sent Mrs. Mankowski and the Global Studies students heartfelt handmade thank you notes to express their gratitude for the cozy blankets. “Without our students’ help, these children would not have had all of their blankets by this time of the year. They truly are an amazing group that went above and beyond their typical school day to give back to the community,” Mrs. Mankowski shared. “They want to start their own program of giving back blankets and are now looking at local charities to support. I am so honored and humbled to have worked with them,” she continued.
To date, Mrs. Mankowski has made and donated 193 blankets for the children in Mooncrest, plus an additional 15 for the sisters.
Thanks for making a difference, Milla, Mrs. Mankowski, and the Global Studies team!