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Valley News Dispatch

Leechburg High School life skills students make blankets for the needy

| Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, 9:54 p.m.

Some Leechburg Middle/Senior High School students are creating for a cause: making fleece blankets this week for charity.

Students from the life skills class, taught by Mark Jones, learned a new skill — crafting no-sew blankets — as part of a new holiday charity project.

More than 40 fleece blankets were made from 170 yards of fabric in three days, as students learned how to tie square knots.

“This process has helped some of the kids by honing their manual dexterity and fine motor skills,” Jones said. “The kids have been excited for this project.”

Jones' mother, Sue Jones, has volunteered with life skills students for a decade. She and her sister, Carroll Gorman of Crafton, instructed about nine students involved in the project all week.

“The students were socializing and laughing and being creative. This project had social benefits, as well,” Gorman said.

The sisters donated the money needed to supply the fabric to make the blankets.

A third sister, Sally Fullman of New Jersey, contributed money.

“It is important to work with the kids to show them that they can get involved by making something to give to others,” Sue Jones said.

She said the students were eager to select from colorful fabric themes such as cats, dinosaurs, tie-dye and Steelers colors and learn how to tie the blankets.

Each blanket is 58 by 72 inches, and every student made a keepsake blanket to take home.

Tenth-grader Charlie Pacuch took his job seriously, working steadily and helping to make 15 blankets, Jones said.

Senior Mike Herbinko said he hopes his Steelers-inspired blanket helps someone in need.

“I am happy to help make someone warm with a blanket this Christmas,” Herbinko said.

Mark Jones plans to take the students to Pittsburgh, where they will personally distribute blankets to Pittsburgh charities Light of Life and Jubilee Kitchen.

“It will be like a field trip for them,” Jones said.

Leechburg Area Superintendent Tiffany Nix encourages her staff to seek out enrichment opportunities for students, and this new charity project fit in nicely with the life skills program, she said.

“It is truly amazing what our life skills students are accomplishing,” Nix said. “I could not be prouder of their hard work and determination.

“This service project is a terrific avenue for our teachers to teach our children about humanity and giving to others.”

Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.

Life Skills seventh-grade student Olivia Smythe works alongside volunteer Sue Jones on a camo-style fleece blanket at Leechburg Middle/Senior High School. Jones and her two sisters donated  funds to finance the project.  Jones has volunteered with the Life Skills students in the district for a decade. Nov. 14, 2017
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
Life Skills seventh-grade student Olivia Smythe works alongside volunteer Sue Jones on a camo-style fleece blanket at Leechburg Middle/Senior High School. Jones and her two sisters donated funds to finance the project. Jones has volunteered with the Life Skills students in the district for a decade. Nov. 14, 2017
Leechburg Middle/Senior High School Life Skills students Jacob Greer and Alize Cleveland show off a handmade., 'no-sew' fleece blanket with a dinosaur theme on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.  The students made 43 blankets this week for a holiday charity project.
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
Leechburg Middle/Senior High School Life Skills students Jacob Greer and Alize Cleveland show off a handmade., 'no-sew' fleece blanket with a dinosaur theme on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. The students made 43 blankets this week for a holiday charity project.
Leechburg Area School District Life Skills teacher Mark Jones, students and staff worked together, making 'no-sew' fleece blankets. Materials were supplied at no cost to the district, thanks to a $500 donation from school supporters.
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
Leechburg Area School District Life Skills teacher Mark Jones, students and staff worked together, making 'no-sew' fleece blankets. Materials were supplied at no cost to the district, thanks to a $500 donation from school supporters.
Stacked, completed fleece blankets await delivery in the Life Skills room at Leechburg Junior-Senior High School.
Joyce Hanz | For the Tribune-Review
Stacked, completed fleece blankets await delivery in the Life Skills room at Leechburg Junior-Senior High School.
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