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Comfort blankets

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Is 40:1).
All people need a little comfort sometimes – kind words, a hug, an empathetic smile.
But at other times, the need for comfort is more acute – during a hospital stay, while homeless, in a new country as a refugee or after the loss of home to fire, for example.
It’s at those times that Kathy Budd, a parishioner of St. Bridget Church in West Rutland, offers special comfort in the form of comfort blankets.
Chair of the Comfort Blanket Project, she collects and distributes blankets of all kinds – quilted, knit, crocheted or simple swaths of fleece – from infant size to queen size.
It’s a community service of Maple Leaf Quilters Guild of Rutland that benefits various organizations including Rutland Regional Medical Center, BROC--Community Action in Southwestern Vermont, the Department for Children and Families foster care program, the Students Taking Effective Paths to Success program for foster children attending The College of St. Joseph in Rutland, the Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter and the University of Vermont Medical Center. Special needs – like those of refugees and fire victims – are also met.
Budd helps local elementary school children design quilts to be made by guild members for the project but otherwise accepts only completed blankets.
She distributes what she has collected about once a month.
In nearly five years, almost 1,400 new, homemade comfort blankets have been distributed.
Recently comfort blankets have been sent off with a special blessing from Deacon Andrew Moulder of St. Bridget and St. Stanislaus Kostka churches in West Rutland and St. Dominic Church in Proctor. He asks the Holy Spirit to give comfort and blessings to the persons who receive them. “I know Kathy and her holiness,” he said. “I tap into Kathy’s holiness and my ordination graces to bring the strength of the Holy Spirit.”
Budd is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and choir member and cares for altar linens at St. Bridget’s and volunteers to read to children in Head Start programs.
“I want to see change in lives in Rutland. Little did I know it would change my life” to spearhead the Comfort Blanket Project. “My heart is four times bigger since doing this.”
One day Budd was outside her home, and a woman passed by crying; her bus to Poultney didn’t stop for her. Budd gave her a ride – and a blanket.
Married and the mother of four and grandmother of five, Budd suffered the death of her daughter, Laura, in 2000. She carries her memory into all she does, including providing comfort blankets. “I’m thinking about her and what she’d want me to do,” Budd said.
She has been sewing since she was in fifth grade and quilting since the mid 1990s. For her, quilting is a labor of love. “Everybody has a labor of love, and this is mine.”
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