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Blanket Brigade: Bridgeville group effort produces heart-warming results

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
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The Blanket Brigade in full force at Bridgeville Public Library, making fleece blankets for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The Blanket Brigade at Bridgeville Public Library isn't quite as imposing as its name implies.

A group of women get together once a month to make blankets, which are donated to patients undergoing chemotherapy at area hospitals.

“It's just something fun,” said organizer Patricia Radford. “We get together and eat cookies and drink tea and make blankets.”

Radford brought the program to Bridgeville after participating in a Crafton program. She brought the idea to a group of women she plays Scrabble with at the library.

“I wanted to see what it was about,” she said. “You really get into it.”

The blankets are simple ones. Two pieces of fleece, one on top of the other. Half-inch wide cuts are made along on the edges, creating strips that then are tied to the corresponding strips below. The result is a no-sew fleece blanket for someone going through a difficult time.

“It's to let them know they're not alone in the world,” Radford said.

“It makes you feel good,” said Blanket Brigade member Mary Heinrich.

She said it's the least she can do. “It's my payback,” she said. “God's been good to me.”

The women attach notes to the blankets, wishing patients well and a speedy recovery. They include their addresses, and sometimes they get thank-you notes.

“It's not something you expect,” Heinrich said. “But it makes you feel good.”

The Blanket Brigade supports the Wrapped in Love Foundation, formed in memory of a local man, James Emmerich, by his wife.

When Emmerich was undergoing chemotherapy, he felt cold all the time, and so he carried a blanket with him. He died in 1997.

The foundation's goal is to “blanket the world with hope” by providing homemade blankets to chemotherapy patients in area hospitals.

“When God gives you something, you should give something back,” Radford said. “We have to help each other get through this life. It's a psychological warmth as well as a physical warmth.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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