On February 6, students came to Abbot Hall and volunteered to make blankets and quilts for Binky Patrol, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving blankets to kids in need. Over the eight years this event has taken place, students, faculty and staff volunteers have put together a total of 300 blankets.
Emilie Cliquet Hughes, Community Engagement Program Assistant, expressed how the volunteer event boosted community spirit by giving campus members a way to help others and learn new skills. Cliquet Hughes also noted that campus members also made new connections with one another and relaxed.
“This is what I’m hearing from the students and adults that come, they find it very soothing and relaxing to come here and talk with people, just being in their own thoughts. They also learn a lot of skills; there are students that don’t know how to sew or how to use the sewing machine. It’s interesting and incredible to see how a lot of them will leave today, how they pick up the skills of using a sewing machine and all these different things. I think, overall, it’s a good feeling to spend an hour giving back to the community,” said Cliquet Hughes.
Beth Hempstead, a volunteer for Binky Patrol, detailed the wide range of recipients receiving blankets made by students. Hempstead emphasized that Binky Patrol aims to provide comfort to children who need those resources.
“We give blankets to foster children, we also give them to the NICU units in hospitals, [and] we give to the fire departments and police departments. Here we have Ms. Cliquet Hughes, [who] helps us get groups of kids from Phillips Academy together [who] come in and work with us. That’s been a great thing to do. It’s mostly teenagers that we have working on creating either a quilt, some sewing, or fleece blankets. We just want to make sure that every child that needs comfort has it. We’re always looking for volunteers to give us a hand and make more blankets for kids in need,” said Hempstead.
Linda Elliot, Office and Data Coordinator in the Sykes Wellness Center, noted how rewarding the afternoon was, especially when the positive impact on the receiving children’s life takes only a couple of stitches. Elliot also asserted the benefits of community engagement on campus, which allows the Andover body to connect with local communities.
“It’s nice to put these blankets together knowing that a few hours can make a difference to somebody and the blankets are really cute and colorful. I think it’s a great message, students are really privileged to be able to go to Phillips Academy, [and] it’s nice to help out someone who is less fortunate and is a great way to spend time, especially on a day off. I always think community engagement is a great idea, especially since so many students that go here aren’t from here, to be able to see what’s happening in the local community, just to be active in their new home,” said Elliot.
Daisy Lopez ’26 expressed her passion for volunteering, especially when creating bonds between faculty and students alike. Lopez also pointed out that volunteering provides a break from campus life and a way to learn something new.
“The first time I [volunteered], I just wanted to find something new and to learn new things, and then I really loved it the first time so I wanted to come back to see the amazing community. I think it’s just a community helping another, [and] it’s really nice due to the fact that for us we’re able to have the opportunity and time to help others. A main takeaway is probably just [to] be open with others, everyone has a reason for why they come and help another who actually needs it,” said Lopez.
Similarly, Kashvi Ramani ’24 noted the new skills she learned while at the event, including using a sewing machine and hand-sewing tags onto knotted blankets. Ramani expressed how she enjoys giving back to people who are in need, the event providing a way to connect with others while also supporting the cause.
“I wanted to learn how to sew and to come and support a cause. I think it’s really noble, I love the fact that they’re donating to anyone who needs it. There’s a lot of children out there who haven’t been able to [have everything they need] so any opportunity to give back, I think, is a great cause. Me and my friend Layelle have been stitching with the big sewing machine, and then we tied off some blankets with knots, and then finally our biggest part was stitching the tags onto the blankets. It’s really simple if you get the hang of it and it feels really good to give back,” said Ramani.