KITSAP COUNTY, Wash. — It’s never easy to ask strangers for help but that’s exactly what Jeff Wallis of Bremerton did when his department found itself in a dilemma.
Wallis is the Kitsap County Coroner and was dealing with the death of a child.
“My investigator called and said we just used the last of our last baby blankets,” Wallis said.
The tradition of wrapping a child in a warm blanket is a small but important comfort for families going through unthinkable loss and personal pain.
A Facebook post asking for donations of blankets or quilts caught the eye of many around the community. In less than 48 hours Wallis received hundreds of donations.
The Kitsap Quilters Guild jumped on the request. Member Linda Moran said visiting the coroner's office was a new experience for her but felt compelled to pitch in with what the group does best.
“The message from our group was, quilters, you know what to do, and we got busy,” Moran said.
Quilters Guild member Kathy Beach said the project made her think of her brother who died as a baby.
“I just remember when my parents got home from the hospital and my mother couldn’t get out of the car,” Beach recalled. Her brother would have been 63 this year.
Beach found comfort in knowing she can provide a small but significant gesture to families in pain.
Jessie Early has a child in pediatric cancer care and volunteers with the Kitsap Friends of Children's Guild. Her tears started the moment she saw the mountain of donations and handmade quilts piling up.
“I know each one of those quilts has a story and to see our community come together so quickly for children is amazing," Early said.
Early is one of many who made a blanket to honor a loved one and many loves lost.
Julianne Powelson showed up with donations from Project Linus, a nonprofit that provides new handmade blankets for kids in need.
“We work with the police, fire, military, Boys & Girls Clubs, and now even the coroner's office," Powelson said.
Project Linus makes and distributes blankets for babies to teenagers. The plea for help from the coroner's office was heard loud and clear.
Donations have been showing up sure and steady since Saturday.
The Kitsap County Coroner's office is overwhelmed by the community support. Wallis said, “this actually took a tragedy and turned it into a great rallying point for the community. What a wonderful thing.”