When Maddie was just 10 and a resident of Vienna, she became interested in volunteering. She credits her parents for inspiring her to volunteer through their own charitable work. But, young Maddie soon discovered she was not old enough to be a registered volunteer for most organizations she contacted. Then one day at a pet rescue event, she noticed that the dogs and kitties were lying on thin rags. Although she was a busy honor student, athlete and pageant participant, Maddie found time to launch Maddie’s Blankets, a nonprofit dedicated to making cozy, warm blankets for our four-legged friends. That was 2007.
Soon their blanket-making events were popping up all around the region. Events have been held at schools, libraries and churches. Volunteer blanket makers ranged from the very young to seniors. Each volunteer was invited to write his/her name on the tags of the blanket…a personal touch.
Maddie’s Blankets soon became part of Volunteer Fairfax’s Give Together event—a family-friendly volunteer event held every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Joining Give Together was ideal because very young children can tie a knot! Volunteer Fairfax was also pleased to feature Maddie’s Blankets in VF’s Youth Service Directory—again– because it was a project in which very young volunteers could participate.
The mission of Maddie’s organization is “Making the world a better place, one blanket at a time.” And the world/community noticed! Support for Maddie’s Blankets came in the form of grants and gifts from individuals and organizations including the Vienna Rotary, McLean Community Foundation and Disney.
The other mission of Maddie’s Blankets is to teach children the value of community service and that even at a young age, they can make a difference.
In December 2012, Maddie’s Blankets reached a goal of making 10,000 blankets. The blanket program was eventually expanded to include making blankets for children in foster care or transitional housing. There is never a fee to receive a blanket.
Maddie states, “I found there were many young children in transitional housing and foster care that did not have the kind of comfy fuzzy blankets that bring the warmth and love they deserve.”
Maddie Pelgrim graduated from Oakton High School, Class of 2015. Off to college, she had a difficult decision to make regarding Maddie’s Blankets. Maddie contacted Volunteer Fairfax to announce she was dissolving the organization. With the remaining funds on hand Maddie wanted to make a financial gift to the volunteer center.
Says Emily Swenson, chief operating officer at VF, “We are really proud of Maddie Pelgrim for being a shining example of the good that young people can do to make a difference. And, we are grateful to be selected as a steward of the funds raised by Maddie’s Blankets to continue engaging the youngest in our community in volunteer service.”
Best of luck, Maddie Pelgrim! We know you are going to do great things. We thank you for being a friend, partner and donor.
In this season of giving, please consider a charitable gift to support volunteerism and celebrate Volunteer Fairfax’s four decades of service to the community.