It was the day before Christmas Eve and then 11-year-old Taylor Beckwith was helping give gifts to those less fortunate at the Modesto Gospel Mission. She was assigned to the infant table where she passed out gifts from books to toys but what really struck home for her were the blankets.
Her experience at the Modesto Gospel Mission started out as a life lesson inspired by her mother Karen Beckwith. But the life lesson has taken on a life of its own and has developed into a year-long project — potentially a life-long project.
Now as a seventh grader at Turlock Junior High School, Taylor started a “Blankets for Babies” mission with the goal of collecting 365 baby blankets — one for every day of the year.
And the project all started that day when Taylor saw the need for blankets for those less fortunate.
The Beckwiths ended up at the Modesto Gospel Mission that day before Christmas Eve after Karen decided it was time for her and her daughter to volunteer. She wanted to show Taylor that there are people less fortunate than her and she should appreciate the things she had in her life — and to instill a desire to give back to the community that she calls home.
Half way through their shift, Taylor realized that there were no more blankets to give out to the babies that winter.
“Taylor was in shock when we ran out of baby blankets,” Karen said. “She was quiet all the way home. I asked her what was wrong and she said ‘We ran out of blankets mom.’”
About a week later, Taylor developed the “Blankets for Babies” project so no babies would go cold this winter.
“There were people there who didn’t have as much as we did and they needed help,” Taylor said. “I want to make sure that no babies go cold this winter and that we won’t run out of baby blankets.”
Taylor was so determined to reach her goal of 365 blankets that she kicked off her project by spending her $12 a month allowance to purchase some baby blankets. Those couple of blankets turned into 401 blankets as of Wednesday.
In total, she has spent about $100 of her own allowance and the rest was donated by friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, people from local churchs, businesses and even complete strangers from all over the country.
She has received blankets from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Utah, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Connecticut, to name a few, according to Taylor’s log of all the blankets she has taken in.
She has also received cash donations, dog blankets, children’s coats, children’s shoes and a bag filled with diapers — all of which she has donated to local organizations. Even though she is only collecting blankets, lightly used or new, she has happily donated the little extras she has received.
All of the used blankets collected, about 200, will be donated to the Modesto Gospel Mission this week and the new blankets will be saved up for Christmas time, Karen said.
And Taylor will be there to pass out all the blankets she collected to make sure every baby has a blanket this winter.
“I am excited to see who the blankets will help and who will use them,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she is thankful for all the donations from everyone — to the strangers she has never met to her teachers, friends and everyone else in between. She said the project wouldn’t have succeeded without their help.
Those who are interested in donating new or lightly used baby blankets to Taylor’s project “Blankets for Babies” can contact Karen Beckwith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.