A friend of mine has a Snoopy blanket that was worn thin by her childhood. She grasped that little blanket tightly in her hands every time she faced abuse. She kept the blanket all these years as a reminder of her faith and the strength we're given to endure the terrible times.
Bad things — really bad things — happen sometimes. We can look around, resigned that the entire world is beaten, or we can choose to see the people who are working to make even the worst times a little brighter.
A group called Project Linus collects local homemade blankets and distributes them to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies or “anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug.”
Norene Baeth is the coordinator for eastern North Dakota and the Fargo chapter of Project Linus. She rallies “blanketeers” (people who make the blankets) and finds each blanket a good home. She is constantly in awe of the kindness of people, but she remembers one couple in particular who continue to make her role so fulfilling.
"Hi Nicole, I have a story of kindness that started years ago.
"To begin with, I did fundraisers at Herberger's twice a year for Project Linus, a nonprofit organization that provides blankets for children in crisis. There were so many wonderful people that made donations and would stop and ask what Project Linus was all about. I would hand out business cards with my information. These business cards were attached to jelly beans as a thank you to anyone who would stop.
"Among those who donated was a young couple who really felt that Project Linus was a charity to be supported. They came to each Herberger's event and looked for Project Linus to give a donation. They were very supportive. Unfortunately, Herberger's closed and there was no longer an opportunity to fundraise there.
"One Halloween, my doorbell rang and my heart sank. The neighborhood does not have many trick-or-treaters, so I didn’t have a bowl of candy ready. I answered the door anyway, hoping I wasn't going to be ‘tricked.’
"There, standing in my doorway was the young couple who had been coming to Herberger's. They made a donation to Project Linus. Yes, they kept and used the address for Project Linus from my original business card. I was absolutely shocked. They reminded me they weren't out ‘tricking’ but ‘treated’ Project Linus very generously.
"I believe this is a real act of kindness. But it was doubled. They also treated Project Linus again last Halloween. Sometimes the news is so overwhelmingly negative, I feel we forget there are still people with hope and good hearts. It’s important to share some reminders.
"Blanket Hugs, Norene Baeth."
More than 7 million blankets have been handed out nationwide since the mission began in 1995. There are chapters all over the country and many ways to get involved. You can learn more about how to create, donate or receive at ProjectLinus.org.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.