Cristy Daniels has been in the caring profession for as long as she can remember. As a child, she loved visiting her grandparents and helping with odd jobs around the house. She remembers playing “hospital” instead of “house.”
As a freshman in her Wyoming high school, she took the required emergency medical services course, and while her classmates chose their different career paths, she stayed true to her helping roots. Today, she not only serves patients at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, but also helps thousands of traumatized children with her handmade blankets.
Cristy started making blankets to help her decompress after long days at the hospital. She gave them to nieces, nephews and friends, and then made some for an orphanage in China. When the orphanage closed its doors, Cristy and her coworkers built a new “door” and started making blankets for children rescued by Life Flight crews. Now, because of Cristy, any time a crew gets the call to rescue an abused, injured or traumatized child, her blankets are there to warm and comfort.
“Even as adults, we like to have soft and cuddly blankets, so think of how nice that is for a child who doesn’t know what’s going on,” Cristy says.
Cristy, with the help of the community, has prepared more than 2,000 blankets that have been given to traumatized children and adults across Utah and Idaho. Her blankets are in dozens of hospitals, homeless shelters and crisis centers, in addition to countless homes and bedrooms as a reminder of a stranger’s kind act during a difficult time.
Lori McBride, Cristy’s friend and coworker, sees firsthand the effect these blankets have on people in need. As a pediatric flight nurse, Lori is one of the first to respond to life-threatening situations.
“When the children are transported, it’s often scary and stressful, so it’s nice to give a blanket to a child or family member in the middle of a difficult time,” Lori says. “It helps smooth over the rough edges.”
Having made 680 blankets this year alone, Cristy finds herself taking regular trips to the fabric store.
“I buy about $200 worth of fabric a week, so the employees at the fabric store know me by my first name,” Cristy says.
In fact, the store manager organized a church activity where participants listened to Cristy’s story while tying edges on fleece blankets. That activity helped Cristy, the 40 kids who would receive the blankets and everyone who participated.
“One older woman there wanted to take extra fabric home and make more blankets with her daughter,” Cristy says. “The woman had Alzheimer’s and knew this was one activity they could do together.”
The children Cristy has helped hold a special place in her heart. She and her husband of 25 years have been unable to have children, and she says this project fills a hole she once felt in her life.
“I call them my borrowed children,” Cristy says. “I once saw a little girl on her way to have an MRI and she asked if she could keep her blanket during the exam. That’s why I do this. For those moments, I am their mom and their comfort.”
When disaster strikes, these children might not have family, friends, security or familiarity to comfort them.
But because of Cristy, they will have a soft blanket, made with love by their borrowed mom.