Bins of soft and colorful blankets are sitting at Harbor House, waiting for a child to comfort.
But they aren’t just regular blankets. They’re intended to provide comfort and stress relief to local kids who have experienced trauma.
Recently, Harbor House, the Northwest Georgia Child Advocacy Center, formed a partnership with the Blanket Buddy program. Both organizations strive to provide comfort and stress relief to Rome and Floyd County children and youth in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.
In the last few days, Joe Costolnick, Harbor House’s executive director has been making sure as many agencies and organizations as possible have access to the blankets.
“We’ve had the blankets at Harbor House but when covid hit, we couldn’t really do anything with them,” Costolnick said. “Last week we started pushing it again. I reached out to agencies all over again, trying to bring in as many partner agencies on board. We’re going to law enforcement, school counselors, DFCS, hospitals, anywhere kids are hurting or struggling and need a little comfort.”
Costolnick said the concept is that the blankets provide a tangible form of emotional support.
“It’s for kids who are hurting, or who were abused or were taken from their homes or who are scared,” he said. “Unfortunately we come across kids everyday who are that situation and this is just another small way we can offer some comfort. Think of it as a security blanket. It’s something they can hold on to and keep with them whenever they need it.”
Mary Yarbrough established the Blanket Buddy project in 1994 and with the help of volunteers, made the special blankets from a new-sew pattern.
Over the years, Yarbrough has met with church groups, senior citizens and youth, garden clubs, civic and service groups, high school clubs, and others to talk about the Blanket Buddy Program.
But this partnership with Harbor House can get the blankets directly to the agencies that are most in contact with children in need of support.
Because of its mission, Harbor House staff members have connections with a multidisciplinary team made up of numerous local agencies that serve children, youth and families dealing with stress. Harbor House works with agencies such as law enforcement, schools, DFCS, Exchange Club Family Resource Center, and CASA.
Costolnick said in just a few days, several local agencies and organizations have become involved and he’s been all over town delivering bins of the very special blanekts.
He said the Rome Police Department, Floyd County Police Department and the Floyd County Victim Witness Assistance Program (a department of the DA’s office) are all on board with Blanket Buddy as well as Floyd County Schools, Rome City Schools and Floyd Medical Center.
“Floyd County DFCS will take some as well for their field investigators to have,” he said.
Harbor House and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) are excited to have junior and high school students volunteering to make blankets as their community service projects. The students will be given ready-made Walmart fleece throws to make the blankets. Monetary donations to cover the students‘ supplies are appreciated and checks may be made to:
PO Box 1458
Rome, GA 30162
Local organizations or agencies that would like blankets to give to children in need of comfort can call Costolnick at 706-235-5437.