Thornapple Kellogg School District

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TKMS Students Bring Comfort to Young Patients

 "I really wanted my kids to be able to do some kind of service learning project. Life's not always easy and I think it's important for them to find ways to know they can help others," said Lienesch who works with special needs students.

"They loved doing it and they are so proud of the blankets they made," she said.

Lienesch's students got help from their student connectors. The TK Connectors are students enrolled in the service-learning connectors course at the middle school. These students serve as important role models, mentors and friends to students with disabilities. The connector students work with their assigned student one class period during the day and interact with them throughout the day to be a friend and a helping hand.

With a $700 grant from the Youth Advisory Council, the class went shopping at JoAnne Fabrics to pick out fleece for their projects.  Then they spent two weeks cutting and tying the blankets to donate to sick children at the hospital.

As an added measure, Lienesch's sister, Holly Workman works at the children's hospital. She knows exactly how deeply the children will appreciate the blankets for comfort and visited the classroom to talk to the students about what they've done and how much they will be appreciated.

Workman not only works there with the families now. She also knows firsthand what it's like to be in a hospital as a child.  When she was younger, she battled ALL, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  "It's the most curable form of childhood cancer," Workman told the middle school students. "But still it was a lot to deal with."

Workman  went through chemotherapy for just a little more than two years and said she knows what it's like to feel scared in a hospital.

"Having a blanket like these just helps make it feel a little more like home. And that's what these kids really want - they just want to be home and feel normal," she said.

"I'm so grateful for these blankets and the things you do and I know the kids appreciate them a lot," Workman said. "It's a wonderful thing you've done."