A heart-touching kindness story about three sisters who lose their mother to suicide. As a way of healing, they begin a kindness campaign that ripples out to thousands of people in need of hope and an everlasting hug.
My niece, Annie, was an amazing human being. She loved life. She loved everybody. She was the best hugger in the whole world. Her laugh was infectious. I can still hear it now. She was the kindest person you would ever meet.
Annie was one of those people who walked around with a smile on her face, but quietly, she struggled with depression. We lost her on March 30, 2015. I was utterly devastated, as were her three beautiful daughters.
Annie was my person, her beautiful girls an extension of my person. I didn't want the notion of depression and suicide to be her aura because that wasn't her. I wanted us to come together, to do something to heal our hearts and souls.
We talked about what we could do. Six months later, the idea came, “Let’s make blankets.”
Blankets were the perfect symbol. Annie loved blankets, and they reminded us of her loving hugs.
The idea would be to deliver the blankets with a message to people who especially needed a hug. A hug to remind you that you’re not alone. A comforting hug or even a happy hug. Not necessarily suicide, but you're in the hospital, you're scared, you're a child, or you have cancer. You just had triplets. You deserve a high 5, or you got an A today. The blanket would be an everlasting hug.
We decided on a message to be sewn onto each blanket.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Anne Marie Varney passed away on March 30, 2015. She was an amazing person who had so much love in her heart. She would want you to know that everyone deserves kindness and love. This act of kindness is to honor Annie's life and to show how quickly kindness can put a smile on anyone’s face. We hope this blanket forever keeps you wrapped in love and surrounded by kindness.”
That day, we started by making 35 blankets. Annie was 35 when she passed.
Kindness Has a Way of Healing Hearts
Making the blankets together was a way to heal our hearts and put some sunshine around Annie and the girls again. We made them, sewed on the little message, and then took them to a local hospital.
The response we got was so positive. We decided to keep going. It's making people feel special and believe in themselves, and believe that they are more than enough.
This alone was helping our hearts beat more peacefully.
We went to more hospitals. We made an Annie’s Kindness Blankets Facebook page. So many people started reaching out to us on social media. More and more people got word and started making blankets. People began donating material and funds, and it really just took off. 13,000 blankets to date, and no sight of stopping.
One of our first recipients was Caitlin. Her mom reached out to us and said, “I'm really worried about my daughter. I don't even know you. I don't even know what this blanket can do. I was wondering if you could send her one.
Caitlin was 15 at the time. Within two days, Caitlin emailed me and said, “I think you saved my life. This is one of the best things that came to me. I love my blanket. I love what it stands for.”
In that healing moment, somebody said, "You are valid. You matter, and you're not alone." Caitlin went on to graduate college, and she wrote her first children's book about autism. It’s just that little moment somebody gives you to say, keep going. You got good things coming up.
At this point, there's no stopping or slowing down.
Annie’s Kindness Blankets is not only helping so many people, but it’s also helping all of us. We are still dealing with grief and trauma. Every time we give out a blanket, any time somebody donates material, or we get a message from somebody that we really made their year, or their month, or their week, we are motivated to keep spreading hugs and sunshine.
Connect with Annie's Kindness Blankets
The Varney sisters, along with their Aunt Barbara, started Annie’s Kindness Blankets to honor their mom, Anne Marie Varney, who passed by suicide. They deliver handmade blankets which include a hand-sewn label that speaks of kindness. To date, they’ve given over 13,000 around the globe.
The team at Annie’s Kindness Blankets wants to remind you, we are here, you are not alone. . For more information on what we do, please visit:
Please consider donating to AKB to help pay it forward in 2023. Your donation to Annie's Kindness Blankets is tax-deductible. We receive so many requests, and we fulfill them all because of you!
You can use the link paypal.me/akb143 to donate directly.
Connect with us via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/annieskindnessblankets/