A warm welcome home: Sandy woman offers personalized blankets for kids entering foster care
Kari Tansill spent the early years of her childhood as the youngest child, meaning that when her younger brother, Kelly, entered her life when she was 14 it was an adjustment. Kelly being 10 while Tansill was a young teen meant it wasn't always the most harmonious sibling relationship, but over time Tansill came to realize what Kelly's life was mostly like before he joined her family.
Now, a year after Kelly's death, Tansill has begun a project to bring some joy and warmth into the lives of children entering the foster care system, like Kelly did many years ago.
With donated blankets and her in-home embroidery system, Tansill is personalizing blankets to be gifted to kids just going to a new foster home.
"It's not going to make what they're going through better," Tansill said. "But (I want them) to have something to take with them that's more than a pair of pants and a shirt."
Tansill started embroidering 18 years ago, and she's sewn ever since her mother taught her when she was 10.
For Tansill, sewing has been a creative outlet, even before it was her full-time occupation. Before opening The Old Button Jar, Tansill worked in numerous other fields, including at a credit union, a mortgage company and retail.
"This doesn't feel like a job," Tansill said. "I like to make things my own (with embroidery)."
Tansill recently used these skills to create her own business — The Old Button Jar — which became her full-time job after she was laid off during COVID. And now she sees making these blankets as a way to volunteer from home and also do something for children.
"I love children, but I didn't want to watch other people's kids," Tansill said, explaining that this has been a great way to have an impact on kids' lives while maintaining the peace she's found as a mostly empty nester.
Tansill put a post on Facebook calling for donations of blankets and explaining her project on Aug. 15, and so far she said she's gotten a "great response."
Among those who've contacted Tansill about her effort are neighboring Gresham's Boxes of Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving foster children something tangible as they go to new families, and also My Father's House, a nonprofit family shelter ministry, which donated blankets toward the cause.
She's also been communicating with Sandy resident Kathy Kruckman who has offered to make tote bags for the blankets to be gifted in.
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