Sending Hugs Through Blankets and Books

Snuggled up enjoying a fanciful story – there’s nothing like curling up with a good book in a cozy blanket.

Thanks to the Chaminade Julienne Senior Capstone group of Allie Bardine, Allie Bertke and Alex Yunger, the first graders at St. Benedict de Moor will be able to do just that. The trio created 23 comfy blankets and book sets to help inspire the young students to grow their love of reading through their Tie Reading Blankets project.

“It was such a rewarding experience and their smiles said it all,” Bardine said. “They were overjoyed the moment we walked in. They could not wait to unwrap their blanket and book to read together as a class.”

Bardine, Bertke and Yunger all participated in the Little Sibs program as juniors and fell in love with the young students they worked with. Continuing that journey was an easy decision for the trio as they contemplated a capstone project.

“Originally, we were planning to create an afterschool program to have a way to interact with young students and promote education,” Yunger said. “Then, COVID hit.”
Not to be deterred, they shifted gears a bit.

“We wanted to do something that would help kids get into the habit of reading,” Yunger said. “We thought having their own blanket and book would be one way to make reading extra special.”

To cover the cost of supplies, the group applied for and received a competitive Dayton Catholic Women’s Club Charity Grant. The $300 would help pay for fleece for the blankets as well as books for each of the eager young readers.

The group created a list of supplies and ventured out to a local fabric store to purchase the colorful fabric. A trip to the Downtown Dayton Book Swap netted a treasure of fun, gently used books for the kids.

Next was lining up help to cut and assemble the material into blankets. Chaminade Julienne Ministry and Service posted the project on the “Helper Helper” app, which lists service opportunities for students. More than a dozen service-minded students turned out to assist the capstone trio with the crafty and fun project.

Tied up with bows, the blankets and books were soon ready. The group excitedly delivered the blankets to the first grade class on March 8. It didn’t take long for the young readers to wrap themselves in the snuggly blankets and settle in to listen to a story.

“This is exactly what we hoped to accomplish when starting this Capstone project,” Bertke said. “We believe reading is an important building block, and when presented in a new, fun way, can inspire young kids to change the world one page at a time.”

The Senior Capstone at CJ is a cross curricular, inquiry-based research project that was first introduced as part of a pilot during the 2012-13 school year. Students are challenged to apply all the lessons of their four-year Catholic educational experience by actualizing the traditions of our school’s two founding orders, the Marianists and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. All projects connect back to Catholic Social Teaching. Seniors work in groups of two, three or four for an entire year to complete four phases of the Capstone. The third phase requires students to present their research and findings at the school's Stang Symposium, held this year on April 13. Approximately 40 different projects are covered with topics from sanctity of life and homelessness to self-image, fair trade, environmentalism, poverty and more.



-- This story was published on March 31, 2021.