A journey of 1,000 blankets starts with a single stitch. When 12-year-old Caleb Konopka chose his community service project, the good deed was initially a step on the way to another goal. Caleb wanted to join his school’s student council, but the position’s requirements stated that he must complete a 20-hour summer service project.
The project was inspired by a time Caleb’s brother was hospitalized, and while he was there, he had the opportunity to choose a hand-made blanket for comfort. Nearly a decade later, the blanket remains one of his most beloved possessions. Someone had taken the time to make blankets for children like Caleb’s brother. Now, Caleb decided, he would be that person for other kids’ brothers and sisters.
The pre-teen purchased supplies, practiced his technique and made eight blankets for Primary Children’s Medical Center. Feeling both proud and accomplished, Caleb and his mom Pam Konopka packed up the blankets and went to the nearby hospital. The drop-off was meant to be the conclusion of Caleb’s project, but in reality, it was just the beginning.
“These were the only blankets at the hospital and she would have to choose which eight children would get them out of a hospital filled with children,” Pam told the Daily Herald. “Our hearts sank. Caleb didn’t want to have kids go without.”
On top of his desire to help every child at the hospital, Caleb’s competitive streak kicked his blanket drive into overdrive. After learning that an Eagle Scout donated a staggering 500 blankets to the same hospital, Caleb knew exactly what he had to do. The ambitious 12-year-old was going to donate a grand total of 501.
Word of Caleb’s quiet determination quickly spread. Though he initially planned to raise money for fleece by working odd jobs, Caleb’s mom set up a GoFundMe to help him reach his goal. Caleb’s story exploded after a media outlet covered his honorable mission, and before long, Caleb had over $6,000 to purchase fabric.
After months of tireless effort, Caleb’s eight blankets turned into over 1,300. No child would have to go without a hand-made blanket for quite a while at Primary Children’s Medical Center, all thanks to the hard-working 12-year-old. Oh, and he most definitely made it onto his school’s student council.