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Students Craft Blankets for Harvey Relief

Photo by Nick Tarrant

By Anna Geyer

Colorful fleece blankets in the corner of the UTA FabLab demonstrate the different forms compassion can take.

Students came to the FabLab on the Central Library’s first floor to help make no-sew crafts for people who lost possessions to Hurricane Harvey flooding.

Harvey was a Category 4 storm that made landfall on Aug. 25 and affected southern Texas cites, like Houston, Rockport and the surrounding areas.

The Makers Making a Difference: No-Sew Blankets events were every Thursday of September.

Every month, the Central Library does a series of experiential learning, where students learn practical things they can do with their hands, FabLab director Katie Musick Peery said.

This month, FabLab officials planned to do more of an Oktoberfest theme, but when Harvey hit, they decided to involve students in a more tangible way, Musick Peery said.

The blankets are made by laying two equally sized pieces of fleece on top of each other, cutting strips around the edges, tying the strips into knots, creating a fringe and sealing the raw edges.

Alla McDorman, public relations and advertising junior, said these blankets help show those affected by Harvey that people from different states and cities care about them.

The blankets seem simple, McDorman said, but she believes the act of giving can make someone’s day.

It gives something positive to the people, McDorman said.

Communication sophomore Megan Ciggelakis saw a sign in the library for the event and thought it would be worth attending, even though she’s not crafty, she said.

“It honestly was just to help, and I thought the blankets were really cute,” Ciggelakis said.

As she talked, Ciggelakis tied knots around the edges of the fleece, turning the fabric into a handmade blanket.

While the library has scheduled events on every Thursday, students are able to come by at any time to work on the blankets.

They can do as much or as little as they’d like to, Musick Peery said.

Students can help cut the fabric if they need to kill some time or tie knots along precut fleece while they study.

JOANN Fabric and Craft store gave a discount for the effort. Rebecca Bichel, the dean of UTA Libraries, is involved with a Girl Scout troop that raised funds for some of the material, as well, said Gretchen Trkay, department head for experiential learning and undergraduate research. These contributions enabled the library to buy enough fleece for about 100 blankets.

The library also collected games and books to go to libraries that were affected by the hurricane, Musick Peery said.

There’s been such an outpouring of generosity that some distributors had to put a hold on accepting more donations, Musick Peery said.

If students wish to continue volunteering, helping distribution centers in the area sort through the donations is a great way to participate, said Trkay.

The event was mainly advertised by the FabLab social media accounts and on the glass wall at the entrance to the library, Trkay said.

The last Thursday event was canceled because of limited supplies.