Sugartown woman making difference in lives of sick children
LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — A Sugartown woman is realizing her purpose through her mission to create personalized blankets for children struggling with life-threatening medical issues.
Alison Greene says that with each blanket she creates, she pours a piece of herself into the threads in the hopes that her work is able to bring comfort to a child struggling through tough medical treatments. Greene’s own son, Justin, endured two battles with leukemia, and she said she learned through that experience that simple items of comfort can mean the world to a sick child.
In 2002, Justin relapsed at the age of 10 and endured multiple complications that added to his medical struggle. Greene said throughout her son’s treatments and tests, he carried with him a blanket she had made for him while she was pregnant.
“A blanket can stay with a child through a lot of scenarios, and in Justin’s case his blanket really gave him a sense of comfort through some test procedures where even we could not be there at his side,” she stated.
In 2006, Greene was involved in a car accident that left her unable to work. Over the next few years she said her new limitations began to slowly pull her into a depression.
“It was a real struggle because I just didn’t feel like I was contributing to anything. Like I could not find my purpose anymore,” she stated.
That was when Greene remembered her son’s blanket. As she began to read online the stories of children engaged in medical battles just like her son, she said she suddenly realized she had found a new purpose in her life.
In 2013, Greene created a social media profile, Ali’s Nic Nacs, and began reaching out to those families of children battling medical issues. To each family she met, Greene offered to make a personalized blanket for the ill child. The families accepted, and Green’s goodwill mission was realized.
To date, Greene has made over 600 blankets for children across the globe. Her blankets have comforted children throughout the U.S., in South Africa, Australia and Ireland. This week, she is finishing up blankets that will be sent to families in the Phillippines and in Nepal.
Each blanket is made of flannel and uses material unique to the child’s interests as told by their parents to Greene. With the assistance of Tamela Carlson, of Bayou Embroidery in Merryville, each child’s name is added to their blanket as a final touch before being shipped out. All at no charge to the family.
“I could never imagine charging a family for this. It’s a gift, and it’s just my way of trying to help comfort a sick child that could be struggling the same way my own child struggled,” Greene stated.
Greene’s mission survives solely because of donations from the public and her friends and family. She pays out of pocket for all materials and shipping, which can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 when shipping internationally.
“It’s definitely something that I would not be able to do without the support of others, that is for sure,” Greene stated.
Despite the financial undertaking, Greene said her work has brought her just as much reward as the child she sews for.
“This mission has taught me so much appreciation within my own life,” she stated.
“There are so many times that the reality really hits me; some of the children that I am making blankets for will not survive and that can be a crippling thought. I realize just how fortunate my family is for my son to have survived, and that not everyone will have that same outcome. It is humbling.”
Greene’s story has spread across the nation. Recently, she was contacted by retired NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon’s Children’s Foundation who has offered to include Greene’s story in their own newsletter.
“It’s always amazing to see just how far word of my blankets has spread, but most importantly I just hope it helps reassure families that I am legitimate and not trying to take advantage of them. I just want to help a child in need of that extra comfort as they fight the hardest battle of their life.”
Information from: American Press, http://www.americanpress.com