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Blanket project ties friends together

Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnist Photo courtesy Ann Fredricks Photography 1 / 2
This group of former high school classmates makes blankets for people in need of help and healing. Special to Forum News Service2 / 2

They say there are ties that bind, things that happen in our lives that leave us forever connected and intertwined with others.

But what happens when decades begin to deteriorate our communication with those people?

As Caryl Kiser from southeastern Ohio shares, those ties not only continue to hold, they grow stronger with each knot of kindness.

"Five years ago, after moving back to Ohio from Chicago, I met a classmate, Sonja, for the first time in about 50 years. We were in the car chatting when she said she wanted to stop and buy some fleece material. She was hoping to learn how to make a tie blanket. Well, I knew how and offered to help her make one.

A few days later, Sonja and I learned that our former classmate had been diagnosed with breast cancer. We quickly agreed we would make her a blanket. Another classmate was also diagnosed with breast cancer, so we made a second blanket.

Sonja and I contacted a few other classmates to help tie the knots on the blankets and offer prayers of healing for our friends.

As we made the blankets, we caught up on life after years apart. We chatted about ourselves, high school and the ups and downs since our teenage days.

We soon learned that another classmate had lost his life to cancer. We made a third blanket to give to his wife, who, yes, was yet another classmate!

It was then that we officially decided to make blankets for those who needed healing prayers. Once word was out about us and our project, the Gallia (Ohio) Academy High School, Class of 1967, sent us donations for our blanket project. We became known as the 'Blanket Ladies' and continue to be supported by the men and women of the Class of '67.

To date, we have made more than 600 blankets which have been sent throughout the United States. We donate most of our blankets to the cancer center in our original hometown of Gallipolis, Ohio. Our youngest recipient was six months old.

This little core group of 10 women have been in Girl Scouts and church camps together. We have giggled over boys, held each other through breakups with our boyfriends, wiped away tears of disappointment and walked across the stage on graduation night before stepping into life.

Most of us were only in touch periodically until five years ago when the Blanket Ladies group formed. During that time, our group has once again held each other in love through two diagnoses of breast cancer, one heart attack, one life-threatening emergency surgery and six funerals for parents, siblings and children.

We are more than classmates. We are sisters who have a bond that will never be broken!"

I wonder if all those years ago, Caryl and her friends learned the "Make New Friends" Girl Scout song. They certainly are living out the lyrics. Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold. A circle is round, it has no end. That's how long, I will be your friend.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at " target="_blank">nicolejphillips.com.

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