Blanketing the Problem of a Cold Winter Ahead
Eager mothers crowded tables in a back room in Robbins last week building blankets. A new worker at the Northern Moore Family Resource Center had come up with a way to keep children of needy families a little warmer this winter.
“Julie Pitts, our assistant director, just started working for us this fall,” said Clare Ruggles, the center’s director. “She lives in Pinehurst and has two middle-school-aged boys, and I think she has been amazed and disturbed by the need in Robbins.”
Robbins, like many former mill towns across the state and the Southeast, has seen the loss of one factory job after another. The old Robbins Mill, long the center of busy looms and provider of paychecks, closed long ago and burned to the ground in 2008. Its rubble-strewn site became such a dramatic image of economic loss that it brought camera crews from BBC and other news media from far away to Robbins.
The town’s most recent loss was earlier this fall at American Growler, which ended production at its Green Street plant in Robbins, throwing some 50 people out of work.
The Resource Center’s mission is connecting needs with solutions. It transports Spanish speakers to English as a Second-Language classes, for example. This month it’s been helping locals renovate substandard housing, teaming with the regional chapter of Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofit agencies.
“One day, a boy the same age as (Julie’s) younger son came in with his mother, who speaks little English, to ask for help paying their electricity bill,” Ruggles said.
Pitts pictured children shivering through a winter night so near to prosperous Pinehurst.
“A friend of hers told her about ‘no sew’ fleece blankets,” Ruggles said. “The friend’s daughters had made them in Girl Scouts. Anyway, with so many families in Robbins having inadequate heat, if any, she thought making blankets would be a great thing.”
So did Ruggles, who dipped into the center’s kitty. She and Pitts headed to Greensboro to buy big pieces of felt to make blankets.
“We bought enough fleece to make 200 blankets, and invited moms who have children at Robbins/Elise (elementary and middle schools) to come to the Resource Center to make blankets for their children,” she said. “We had such fun choosing colorful prints that would appeal to boys and girls of all ages, and were excited to see mothers make warm and pretty blankets for their children.”
Family members chose from a variety of fabric patterns selected to please children of all ages. “This will make a great additional Christmas present for children who would enjoy the warmth a new blanket will provide,” Ruggles told them.
Last week and this, the center’s back room was a busy blanket-building place, with workers at every table snipping felt and knotting them into colorful blankets.
The system is simple. Big squares of the soft cloth are laid out flat, and a second square, usually of a contrasting color or pattern, is laid out atop the first. Strips about three inches wide are positioned along each edge as markers, then the folks start cutting inch-wide slits from the edge in to the marker. Once every edge has been fringed in that way, they knot the top square to the bottom by tying their newly cut strips together.
In total, the group made 150 blankets for families.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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