Little hands, big impact: Kids make blankets for cancer patients

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The students at Pecan Park Elementary School in Ocean Springs prove, one knot at a time, that little hands can make a big difference in their community.  They spent their Friday making pink blankets they didn't intend to keep for themselves.

"It's for people when they have cancer," explained 10-year-old Kendal Hunt.  "They usually get really cold to wrap up in a blanket."

Hunt is a fourth grader, and one of the many Pecan Park Elementary students making blankets to donate to local cancer patients at the Singing River Regional Cancer Center.  Hunt said tying knots around the blankets' edges was fun, but the best thing about the project was knowing she was helping someone else.

"I'm actually doing this for a whole bunch of people in a hospital that are sick," Hunt said.

Melissa McIlwain, a kindergarten teacher at Pecan Park, organized the project.

"They understand that cancer is an illness and it makes you very sick," McIlwain said.  "The older students, some of them have family members who have had breast cancer and so they are aware of what they're doing it for."

Community service is a regular part of Pecan Park's curriculum, but this year's project hits close to home.  Two staff members have battled breast cancer, including 2nd grade teacher Courtney Hubbard, who is still fighting the disease.

McIlwain got the idea by making a blanket for Hubbard over the summer with printed pink ribbon-themed fabric she found at Wal-Mart.  The megastore donated all the fabric for the school project.  Serendipity, a store in Ocean Springs, also monogrammed each blanket with the words "Made With Love by Pecan Park Elementary."

McIlwain said she's thrilled at the children's enthusiasm over the project.

"We are raising some wonderful children here, and we are going to have some good citizens come out of this school," McIlwain said.

Hubbard isn't teaching this year due to her cancer treatments, but she came to school and helped on Friday.

"I'm just so humbled," Hubbard said of the project.  "They're just so sweet.  Even as small as kindergartners, preschoolers, they're all so eager to help and show their support.  It's just precious."

Hubbard said she thinks the children can learn from their experience.

"Maybe now, from a small age, they'll understand and remember the experience and reach out to people in the same situation in the future," Hubbard said.

Hubbard said this little act of love makes a big difference in her battle with cancer, and she thinks it will help others in her shoes.

"I can't put into words how loved and appreciated, and I feel taken care of," Hubbard said.  "I feel like everything's going to be okay.  I'm not on this journey alone."

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