With her handsewn blankets featuring stitched on felt hearts, a Gallatin fifth grader is getting national recognition for spreading love to children and adults around the world who are facing a variety of different challenges in their lives. 

After making a blanket to give to a friend for their birthday, Lucy Blaylock, 10, wanted to do more for other children to help them feel loved. So, the Union Elementary STEM and Demonstration School student started making “Love Blankets” for others.

“It makes me happy to do something to make someone else feel happy and loved,” Blaylock said. “If we could all think of things we can do to be kind, the world would be a better place.”

With the help of her mother Veronica, Lucy asks people who visit her @LucysLoveBlankets account on Instagram to nominate anyone who could benefit from one of her handsewn blankets. The only qualification is that the recipient is someone who “needs a little extra love.”

To date, the 10-year-old has made more than 375 Love Blankets that have gone mostly to children who are dealing with a variety of different challenges including illness, divorce, bullying and loneliness. In addition to local deliveries, Blaylock has also shipped blankets to people in 13 different countries worldwide.

“A lot of times people who nominate the children will tell us what they love and what they’re into,” Veronica Blaylock said. “Lucy also loves when they send a picture. She’ll look at it and read about the child. Then, we try to pick out fabric according to their age and what we think they would love.”

Each blanket takes about four hours to make and comes with a personal note from Lucy, as well as a poem she wrote that concludes by saying that “whether you’re happy or sad or just feeling blue, I hope this reminds you that someone loves you.”

Without a sale on fabric, materials for each blanket cost approximately $24. The cost, along with shipping, is paid for primarily through donations. However, the Blaylocks contribute their own money when the funding is not enough.

National recognition

Last week, Blaylock was named Tennessee’s middle level state honoree by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program that recognizes the top two youth volunteers from each state as well as the District of Columbia.

All of the 102 state honorees from across the county will receive $1,000 along with an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in May for four days of national recognition events. 

“In our 25th year of honoring young volunteers, we are as inspired as ever by the work students are doing to address the needs of a changing world,” Prudential Financial Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey said in a prepared statement. “We hope that their resolve, their initiative and their perspectives on society’s challenges move others to consider how they can make a difference, too.”

While in the nation’s capital, state honorees will tour landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from around the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. 

Union Elementary held an assembly last week to surprise Blaylock with the award announcement. During the program, Mayor Paige Brown also presented the fifth grader with a proclamation declaring Feb. 4 as Lucy Blaylock Day in Gallatin.

Union Principal Lance Taylor, who nominated Blaylock for the national recognition, said her example of servant leadership and compassion for others has not only inspired him but others at the school as well.

“I nominated Lucy for her huge heart for other people, especially those who are hurting whether it’s physically or emotionally,” Taylor said. “When she gives someone a blanket, she has also touched the lives of everyone in that family. 

“If one kid can touch this many lives, then hundreds of us can do more.”

In May, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards will name its top 10 national honorees for 2020 from the middle and high school state levels. Each honoree will each receive an additional $5,000 scholarship, gold medallion, crystal trophy and a $5,000 grant for the nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.

Since 1995, more than 130,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The program is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. 

 

SPREADING LOVE

For more information about Lucy’s Love Blankets visit her Facebook page at Lucy’s Love Blankets or her Instagram page @LucysLoveBlankets. Donations to purchase fabric and help pay for shipping costs can be made through PayPal at www.paypal.me/veronicablaylock and Venmo at www.venmo.com/veronica-blaylock

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