Our First Newsletter

Hello Blankie Depot Volunteers,

It brings me great pleasure to share with all of you the past three months of our journey. After being forged from love and compassion merely 15 years ago, our presence is just as strong as it ever was and now is our time to shine brightly, for we were left with all the fuel necessary thanks to Hillary, Dan and Nick. This amazing mission has become a permanent part of New Jersey and we will ensure its success for years to come.

I will never quite understand where I pulled the courage from that morning in Hillary’s living room and for a second I think neither one of us actually believed what had just come out of my mouth. Over the next couple of days we talked via email and then began to set in motion and plan out the future which is now right in front of us. I enrolled in classes to learn about the endeavors of Nonprofit Management and met with Hillary diligently. Getting to spend time with Hillary is like taking a plant and offering it water, sunlight and food…it will only flourish. I am very lucky to have had such an amazing opportunity.

As the journey continued, I met with my teachers at Brookdale to further pick their brains, as I had many questions. There are many facets to running a Nonprofit Organization. I had to select a Board, fill 2 Office positions, open a bank account, incorporate, apply for 501(c)(3) status, register in NJ and the list went on. Thankfully, the help that Stacia and I lent to the RAINE Foundation in Hazlet in November of 2013-May2014 paid dividends when their acting President at the time had referred me to an attorney in Keyport that on August 7th finalized Blankie Depot as NJ NONPROFIT CORPORATION all free of charge, saving us around $500. Next step was to get Uncle Sam to grant us that status we were looking for and he did on October 2, 2014. As our year progressed and with silent forces at work, the laws were all changing; tax codes were eased, paperwork reduced and processing time was shorted. It was like the universe was opening the door for us and saying, “Come on in, we have been waiting for you guys”. We were in full effect and from that point forward we could operate successfully. Prior to this year a 30 page application and 6-9 month waiting period was what a new Nonprofit could expect. We were informed in about 40 days and the application required for us was reduced to 3 pages from 30!!

hillary and the girlsOver the next 3 weeks Hillary and I were honing in on the last of the major details and what needed to be accomplished. My last delivery coordinated by Hillary was on October 22, 2014 and I went to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. Then I was off to the bank to open our account with our Tax ID and our Treasurer, Eric with the $1231.00 we used to start the business.

On October 25th; if everyone recalls, Hillary officially announced that I would be taking over as our new President. Thankfully on November 6th, our Board Members felt the same way and with Hillary in attendance, all were in favor of this motion.

October 27th was a big day for me, as I got to meet Liz and Cliff, two of our stars on the Caravan of Love Driver Team who arrived at our new headquarters ready to take on both memorial donations . Two of our volunteers in the Crochet Group that meets in Middletown, NJ suffered losses. One of those ladies lost her mother and the other lost her sister. These deliveries were made in honor and loving memory to Newark Beth Israel Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

In November the inventory started piling in from Manalapan Library, Quilting Possibilities in Forked River and Michael’s in Howell. All of these Drop Sites have pledged their support and special thanks to Jane, Deb, Patti, Joan and Deb who help coordinate, deliver and make sure our beautiful artwork get to headquarters for inventorying and delivery. Inventory also started coming in from groups like the Spring Lake Knitwits’ (who have 3 groups!!) Colt’s Neck Seniors, NJ Blind Citizens’ Association, St Mary’s Church and Red Bank Regional High School. Individuals made there way to both the bin and in the front door at HQ as well as local drop sites to make sure inventory . Also packages showed up from UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service regularly and from various places across country. Some blankets came in from South Carolina and Florida and from all over New Jersey. I am extremely happy that I have had the privilege to meet several of the volunteers in our home, out for coffee, some at Mozzarella demonstrations and others by shear luck. Others have even been so gracious as to invite me to their home to share a new experience. We have gained many wonderful new volunteers who have come to aide the mission in the past couple of months. Thanks to all the volunteers who have all the experience and are still here as many as fifteen years later…some of you are even part of the original 8!

A special thanks to Tina, the children and the crochet group at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill, who took a project from idea to funding to creation to delivery. It began as a discussion & project with Hillary and followed through all the way. The kids even included cards with wonderful notes included for our recipients. These items were included on a campaign that helped the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey as they absorbed the Trenton Headstart Program this year to help kids in need. Maryanne and Joe were wonderful to work with and they do wonderful things to help the kids in Mercer County. Joe came to pick up 50 blankets on December 3rd and on December 19th Stacia took 87 stuffed toys and 50 stockings made by two of our girls in the National Honors Society at St. Rose in Belmar along with some blankets, hats, scarves and books to Joe so we could get a few more items to the kids for Christmas as Maryanne had a need for at least 90 kids. It is truly incredible to hear all the needs out there from other directors and coordinators.

In the midst of all this action, a new addition to my girlfriend’s family was getting ready to enter the world. However, Max did not want to wait any longer to get here and was born on September 28th as a preemie and within days his new little lungs failed him and he was rushed to the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and thanks to the doctors & nurses his life was saved. He is strong and doing fantastic these days and got to celebrate his first Christmas. On November 7th the Virtua Memorial Pediatric Pavilion (affiliated with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) found us from all the way down in Mount Holly and requested blankets to help comfort their children. Only days later I was down there with 34 blankets, 2 hats and 9 plush toys. Cara, Alice, Lola, Nancy and Maryjane all had their lovely art included in this campaign. We went down there again on December 23rd with more blankets, toys, bibs, and stockings.

maxHe was passed around the family table all night and slept right through all the commotion!!

Liz & Cliff took two stops on December 4th. One delivery was for Operation Sleighbells and the other was to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. OS had blankets, hats, sweaters, bibs, bags, toys, preemie items and 2 crocheted purses while Riverview was 20 baby blankets and hats. Joe H. took a delivery to Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy consisting of 40 blankets paired with hats to match, plus 23 scarves, 13 extra hats and 5 headbands on December 5. Joe has been a tremendous component taking several deliveries, advocating our mission, and offering a wealth of energy and ideas to Blankie Depot. Anne was at the house on December 5th as well picking up 23 blankets, 19 hats, 7 Scarves and 1 headband to take down to Tinton Falls where Lunch Break from Red Bank puts together “Wish Lists” for families in need around the Holidays. Items created by Barbara C, Lynn R., Ruth V., Leona M, Lola P., Kathy E., Jessica R., Sharon H., Rene S., and others all helped comfort the children in need this season.

On December 22nd, our driver Anne took a delivery to Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth. On December 23rd, Eric took a delivery to the Natal Intensive Care Unit at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune consisting of 31 blankets and hats to match all while Liz & Cliff took 14 blankets and hats to Kimball Hospital which is now Monmouth Medical Southern Campus in Long Branch . These deliveries were made possible from the efforts of Sue H., the Spring Lake Knit Wit groups, Gerry H., Cara B., Jennie, Sue E., Helen M. & friends and some anonymous donors from the Manalapan library site. Lots of fleece blankets came in, perfectly tied and cut as I would expect nothing less from volunteers led by Hillary. Some were even extra warm as two sets of fleece were tied together to make a thick blanket, perfect for these cold winters in NJ!! The quilts were all magnificent and varied in size from infant to teen and came in from all over the state. The detail and stitch work amazes me and I am eager to learn more about that style of our art. Fortunately, in the upcoming weeks I will be meeting with Rebecca S. who will shine some light on this area for me. I thank you in advance for the lessons and bearing with my questions. Thanks to all the efforts from the kids as their talents contributed to 35% of the items for our campaigns. Alice Z. made a toy that I feel should be our mascot and may be one of my favorites from 2014!! Pat A. always included something for the children to do like read a book or color. Anna Marie made beautiful tree skirts, quilts and other sewn items that were fantastic. Beautiful bibs by Anne Marie and sewn fleece by Deb S.

Needless to say, our December was extremely busy and we impacted several counties!! We were able to coordinate 15 deliveries between October 22nd and December 23rd, 10 of which were in December…WOW!! Sending out 467 Blankets & Quilts, 540 Hats, 118 Bibs, 16 Bracelets, 8 Headbands, 41 Scarves, 76 Sewn Bags, 100 Stockings, 2 pairs of gloves, 3 Books, 120 hand made and stuffed toys. After a busy holiday season there are only a few remaining items which are waiting to be sent out with our next round of donations. ​

One set of quilts came up from Barnegat, NJ and they were breathtaking.  I held them on the side and they are being included in the memorial donation that is being made in honor and memory of one of PLNJ’s greatest volunteers to Monmouth Medical Center.  The date is going to be announced shortly and Blankie Depot volunteers who would like to be a part of this delivery can reach out to me so I can include you in the details of the donation.   She lost her battle to cancer in November and friends, colleagues, volunteers and loved ones have donated $1335.00 to date in her honor with more pledged on the way.  She was an integral part of organization, donating her time, energy, efforts and resources for nearly a decade.  A beautiful life was lived and impacted thousands of lives; some directly and others were able to feel the ripple effect of her goodwill!!  She will live on in our hearts forever.

Thanks to our other supporters!! Our Middletown Group of Ladies who meet at Panera on Tuesday nights contributed nearly $600 since October; proving that a small contribution weekly makes a huge impact.  Board gifts were contributed and  some volunteers donated along with contributing their artwork to help solidify the financial strength of our organization as 2014 wrapped up quickly.  Thanks to the Dainty’s who provide monthly support to our programs!!  Everyone has been very generous when providing their contributions and the Board and myself are happy to report that all funds in our account for year ending 2014 can be used for programs in 2015 so that our “start-up” efforts go directly to our mission.

Also a reminder to make note that checks must be made payable to Blankie Depot or Blankie Depot, Inc., either are fine.

Thanks to Paul, Wendy and Alison, for without you our state would not allow us to form and we could not exist.  Thanks for sharing the passion and believing in me and most important, the Mission.

Thanks to Kathy, our web girl, for without her our site would not exist and in the past week has really put in a great deal of work making all the changes to the site necessary for the future of Blankie Depot.  Keep checking back and referring others to the site.  Our new BROCHURE is available to printing. Blogs will be worked on and updated as your beautiful work and volunteerism is constantly being praised.  We are going to be adding an Events Tab for posting upcoming events and important dates to remember.  I will be counting on volunteers for information on when Michaels, and Joann Fabrics are having sales.  If groups would like to discuss posting opportunities we can talk about that as well.  Also we are looking to create a more user friendly and volunteer based pattern page.  Please send in your favorite and time-tested patterns so we can compile them to share!!

Thanks to EVERYONE on our Caravan of Love Team.  The moment I have been waiting for…our Driver Form is now formatted properly. If everyone could please take the time and fill out their form and send it to: Blankie Depot, PO BOX 304, Hazlet, NJ 07730.  Then I can put in on file and utilize everyone who said yes…Al, Anne K., Deb S., Fran V., Harriet C., Jane F., Joe H., Judy B., Liz & Cliff D., Maureen W., Patti R., and Eric F.

Thanks to the Monmouth County Library System and their love for us.  The Hazlet Public Library is now hosting a crochet group so please reach out to the manager and see when those ladies are getting together.  Hopefully by the end of the year we will have a group meeting in every Library!!  Moore Yarn in Hazlet offers our volunteers 20% off and offers their space as an additional drop site for convenience.  Please tell Mitzy and Cliff, “Hello!”.

Thanks to our volunteers who put on many hats for Blankie Depot.  Transporting inventory, coordinating efforts, contributing, advocating and crafting to maximize our potential and allowing us to become a great success.

I have managed to pull 10 blankets, 39 hats and 2 headbands along the way as our “HUGS WITH HEARTS” campaign begins on February 9th so I would like to ask that any red, white, pink, combo or variegated colors be used to create Hugs themed for Valentines’ Day.  Some of our groups are working on this project and there is still a month left to make items.  I ask that all art gets turned in by Friday, February 6th.

I want to remind everyone that we are signed up and registered at:  smile.amazon.com

So that everyone knows Michael’s is having a sale until 1/10/15  just in case anyone’s yarn stash is running low or you just need the right shade of a particular color and want to stock up.

The bin at Headquarters is on the driveway up against the house and has been turning up donations for the past month.  Inside the bin there are business cards and brochures so you can spread the good word.   Thanks to everyone who made their way through town and battled all the construction that is going on to get here.

I will be not be around from Sunday January 25th to Wednesday January 28th as I will be up in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.  The drop bin is still accessible 24/7.

As I have asked  in past, please reach out with any ideas or comments or feel free to share your experiences.  Also please feel free to include suggestions for the newsletter.

 

Raritan Bay Thank you
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RiverView ThankYou
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Virtua Thank You
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Virtua

To a wonderful and successful 2015!!
Thanks to everyone for making this dream a reality.

Keep smiling and shine on,
Greg

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