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Youth Action Council is collecting fleece through Dec. 6 to make blankets for Children's Center of Clackamas County

COURTESY PHOTO - Last year's Youth Action Council members delivered about 75 blankets to the Children's Center of Clackamas County.This holiday season, the community has an opportunity to make a difference in a child's life during the upcoming cold months. After all, the winters in the Pacific Northwest can become quite chilly.

That's partly why the Lake Oswego Youth Action Council (YAC) decided to collect unused fleece to make blankets. Fleece is accepted in at least one yard or more increments starting Nov. 4 and running through Dec. 6. The public can drop the fleece off at one of the seven locations in Lake Oswego: The parks and recreation office at Christ Church Parish, the Adult Community Center, the library, City Hall, the Public Golf Course, and Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools.

Teen volunteers at the high schools will then tie the pieces of fleece together with fringe knots in mid December and deliver the blankets to the Children's Center of Clackamas County — a nonprofit child abuse intervention center.

"It's not so much imperative it happens before Christmas because they (the nonprofit) run all year," said Cydny Fletcher, teen and youth program coordinator, adding that the nonprofit organization gives a tour to the teens who help deliver the blankets. "You realize you're in the presence of profound people ... It's meaningful to see them (the students) drop it off and do the tour."

COURTESY PHOTO - High school students volunteer to put the blankets together. YAC started donating the blankets to the Children's Center eight years ago. The group would purchase 20 or 25 blankets and sew patches on the fleece to make each one unique.

But that proved to be quite time consuming.

Four years ago, the group opened the collection up to the entire community and instead of patches, it decided to put the different pieces of fleece together and tie them with fringe knots, making the project more efficient. Donations to the center increased to between 60 and 80 blankets a year, and have hovered around 75 blankets the last two years.

Fletcher said YAC hopes to donate a similar amount this year.

The leftover fleece — sometimes people also donate strips that aren't large enough for a blanket — is used to make cat toys for the Cat Adoption Team. Fletcher said the group aims to create cat toys with the fleece again this year and perhaps dog toys if the group can figure out how to create a durable toy.

Fletcher said the children at the center undergo traumatic experiences and she said it's nice to provide them with a unique gift and say: "Here's something that can get you on the way to healing."


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