WSU students make, distribute blankets for those in need

Snuggling up in a warm, comfy blanket when it’s cold is a basic human need and one of life’s great pleasures. Thanks to Washington State University students, and a grant from Cotton Incorporated, new blankets were given out to people in need last month.

Around a dozen people wearing masks sit at tables with fabric in front of them as they all work to make blankets.
WSU students make blankets that were later donated to nonprofit organizations.

Around 60 students, mostly from WSU’s Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles, gathered in November to make blankets using materials purchased using a grant from the cotton industry.

“We wanted to help the community and give students a chance to help those in need,” said Xingqiu Lou, an assistant professor in the AMDT department.

The students chose different patterns, mixing two layers of fabric for each blanket. They cut tabs along the edges of both layers, then tied those tabs together. It’s a fairly simple process, but takes time.

“The 60 students worked in pairs, so they made about 30 blankets in 90 minutes,” Lou said.

The blankets were donated to two groups based in Spokane: the Crosswalk Youth Shelter and Women’s Hearth. Crosswalk serves runaway and homeless youth in Eastern Washington. Women’s Hearth is a drop-in day center for women who have experienced poverty, trauma, or homelessness.

“We appreciate the time and effort that went into making the blankets, but are especially pleased when students reach out to their community, find a need, and take action to fill the need,” said Susan Tyler-Babkirk, Program Director at Women’s Hearth.

Some of the blankets her group distributed went to women staying at various night shelters, while others went to women transitioning from homelessness to housed.

“Having a cozy blanket to take to their new place is a great way to say welcome home!” Tyler-Babkirk said.

5 students wearing masks stand on a sidewalk outside a building.
WSU students dropping off blankets made by the AMDT department. Photo courtesy Women’s Hearth.

The blankets are only a small part of the grant from Cotton Incorporated, a not-for-profit company that helps companies develop and market cotton products. The overall goal is to teach AMDT students all about the material. Four courses in the major are learning more about cotton this academic year, said Hang Liu, AMDT associate professor and leader on the grant.

“Students are learning about the properties of cotton fibers, how cotton is used traditionally, advanced cotton technologies for broadened applications, and cotton sustainability, in addition to cotton-related supply chain and principles of merchandising,” Liu said. “They also get some hands-on experiences, like this blanket project, that helps the community.”