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Cuddles of Comfort: Group sends comfort to those with childhood cancer

A finished blanket is held proudly by cancer survivors Jace (left) and Gage Maloney, who are 5-year-old twins from Deer Creek, who still have the blankets they received as infant cancer patients. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal 1 / 4
Lynsey Maloney (far left) helps tie blankets with other members of the Girl Scouts Troop 46 on Tuesday, Oct. 2, including Brooklin Kesuit (from left) Madison Schmitz and Chloe Wehry. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 4
Claire Mumm (daughter of Randy and Ashley Mumm) holds up a card she crafted for kids fighting cancer at a Girl Scouts gathering Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the WDC Elementary. The cards would be delivered along with blankets, necklaces and keychains to bring some encouragement to the children and families. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal3 / 4
Girl Scouts troop 46 met at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School Tuesday, Oct. 2, to put together several items to be donated to children fighting illness including these encouraging key chains. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal4 / 4

Fifty-some girls from Girl Scout Troop 46 in Wadena were busy cutting, tieing, drawing, stringing and smiling on Tuesday as they created items they hoped would bring joy to kids in need.

The determined group was wrangled by troop leader Stephanie Weigand and several other parents, who knew with a little direction this group of girls could make great things happen. And great things did indeed happen.

The group was assembled there to make 34 blankets that were to be delivered Thursday to the Minneapolis Children's Hospital. The girls also colored cards and strung charms on necklaces and keychains, all of which was also to be delivered to those children and their families.

"Last year we made blankets for Tri-County Health Care," Weigand said. Since that went well, this was a good fit for the crew. "It's a great way for the girls to give back," she added.

The project was helped by a boom in scout numbers as the troop grew from about 24 last to about 60 this year, according to Weigand.

As the cutting continued, someone was right behind tying the fleece together to form the blankets. It wouldn't be long before those blankets would be wrapped around a child in need of extra comfort. These blankets were going to children in the oncology department dealing with cancer.

Weigand organized the age groups so those able to cut and tie were given that task, artists could draw and color cards and other tiny hands were able to work on the keychains and necklaces. Each did what they could, knowing it was for a good cause.

"I just like to help other people," said Scout Lily Parker, while tying a blanket.

The effort was orchestrated by A Measure of Healing Hearts for Childhood Cancer, a non-profit that was started by Lynsey Maloney of Deer Creek. She and her husband Casey first got involved in childhood cancer when, in Aug. 2013, their twin boys were born with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer that affects the nervous system. Their lives quickly changed as they began fighting for the lives of their brand new baby boys. Since that time, after eight rounds of treatment, the boys have been free of cancer and the family has been working to help the fight against cancer and help those children diagnosed with the disease.

Part of that involves a blanket drive, now in its second year, which seeks to assemble and deliver a stack of quilts to offer some warmth and love to those in need. It came about because the Maloney twins, Gage and Jace, both received blankets in their time fighting cancer.

"They got blankets when they were in the hospital and that's something I will never forget," Maloney said. In fact, the two boys still use those blankets.

And the very active boys were hard at work right alongside their mom and the girl scouts helping make blankets for kids going through what they went through.

In this, the second year of the blanket drive, A Measure of Healing Hearts for Childhood Cancer (MHHCC) worked with the family of Lucille Schik from New York Mills, who helped fund the project, Hometown Crafts, who offered a discount on fabric and Girl Scout Troop 46 who put the blankets together. Ida McLeod did the handiwork of putting the embroidery on blankets.

Their goal through MHHCC is to increase awareness of childhood cancer, provide financial help to families with childhood cancer, and fund research for childhood cancer to better treatment options. Maloney said they are always looking for donations and those in need of help.

"We donate to families in Minnesota whose child has cancer," Maloney said. "We also make a donation to St. Baldrick's each year to help fund research for childhood cancer. We are always looking for donations and that can be done on our website or by participating in one of our events."

In 2017 the MHHCC was able to donate to four families and another eight in 2018. Visit www.mhhccgold.org to donate or learn more about this group

Other events

Aside from the blanket drive, A Measure of Healing Hearts for Childhood Cancer has numerous other upcoming events:

Freezin' 4 a Reason 5K

This run is held during Otterdazzle in Ottertail on Dec. 1. Check out their website and or Facebook page for details to come soon.

Fighting Childhood Cancer One Step at a Time during Otterfest in Ottertail second Saturday of August. Watch for details for the 2019 (6th Annual) event on their website and Facebook page.

Painting for a Purpose, a painting class for you and your friends, families and co-workers. Contact Bobbi Jo Brown at 218-639-1141 for more details.

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