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Blankets, Books and Bears

Feb 09, 2011

Brianna Brass drove by CEDARS all the time. It was in her neighborhood, but she didn’t really know what the organization was or what they did. When she found out that it was a transitional home for children in the foster care system, she knew she wanted to help.

“Because the children are in a transition period between their family home and their new foster home, I know that they can feel scared or uncomfortable. My goal was to bring them things that could provide some comfort – blankets, books and bears – that they could take with them when they moved in with their foster family,” said Brianna.

The Lincoln, Nebraska native decided to work on a donation effort for CEDARS Home for Children Foundation as part of her Gold Award. To get started, she called in the experts.

Brianna Bass in her living room with donations for CEDARS.

“I talked to the staff members to formulate ideas about how I could help them. I took any advice about what they needed, because the staff obviously knows the children best,” she said.

Through these conversations Brianna built her plan to focus on the three B’s – blankets, books and (toy) bears. It was a big task. She made an effort to get the word out through every outlet she could think of – church bulletins, school-wide announcements over the intercom and everywhere in-between.

“Even at the grocery store, waiting in line, I started to talk to people about my project and was able to get donations that way,” she said with a laugh.

Donations started piling up in her family’s living room as she worked to turn donated fleece into blankets with tied edges. For this part of the project she recruited younger Girl Scouts. Two troops of Brownies helped her create 56 blankets that are now providing comfort to children at CEDARS. In total, Brianna donated over 1,000 items to CEDARS. On the day of delivery, the items filled up an entire conference room.

“The day when we were bringing everything to CEDARS was just such a fulfilling moment,” said Brianna. “It was just so enriching to see how grateful and how appreciative the staff was to have all of these donations.”

The fulfillment didn’t stop there. Brianna’s project advisor nominated her for the National Youth and Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Nebraska Chapter. Only after she won the award in her division did she realize she had been nominated. While the awards made Brianna feel great, it was the work itself that made her feel empowered to change the world.

“It has definitely helped me realize that it is really true that one person can make a difference in society,” she said. “In words it doesn’t sound like it really could be true, but once you start getting your purpose out there and start taking action, no matter what you do you will make some sort of difference.”