Jun 02, 2023

Project aims to support grieving families through handmade blankets

by: Scarlett O'Hara

Posted: May 28, 2023 / 10:15 PM CDT

Updated: May 28, 2023 / 10:15 PM CDT

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – Nothing can erase the pain of losing a child. But one woman in Champaign wants to help ease it with a small act of kindness for families enduring their toughest time.

Sara Rand collects and crochets blankets to donate to funeral homes. It may sound unusual, but there's a thoughtful reason behind it – and she's hoping others will join her.

"People don't want to talk about this," Sara Rand said.

Death is an uncomfortable topic.

"There's a lot of families and a lot of kids that don't get talked about once they pass," Rand said. "I want to make sure that no child is forgotten, and no family is forgotten either."

Rand spent more than six years investigating infant and child deaths for the coroner's office.

"My last day of my internship, I actually went to a recycling center with the deputy. They found a newborn baby boy in the trash and to this day – that was about 10, 13 years ago – they still don't know who his mom is," she said.

Memories like that one that stick with her, and inspired a lifelong passion for comforting people in their darkest hours.

"I’ve had other cases where children have been neglected or abused. I grew up neglected and abused. I don't have any contact with my biological family so I just – I want to make sure that these kids never feel unloved and unwanted, even after death," she said.

She recently took up crocheting and decided to make blankets to donate to funeral homes – in item she says serves several purposes, like being a "symbol of love" from the community.

"It's just knowing that there are people that are standing with you, there are people that are here to support you even after this event has happened," she said.

She's seen up close and personal how uniquely challenging the mourning process can be for parents and siblings of children who suddenly die.

"Whether it's a child that's six months, six years, 16 years old, there really is no feeling like the loss of a child," Rand said.

She says objects store memories, and she hopes her handmade blankets can be a vessel for grieving siblings.

"If I can provide an item for them to place all their memories in, maybe they won't have to carry so much pain around. They can put that pain in that blanket instead," Rand said.

Rand hopes the community will join in her efforts. If you’d like to make blankets or donate supplies, you can reach her via email at [email protected].

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