Farmington area charities adapt during COVID-19 outbreak

As the Farmington Area Jaycees planned a baby shower fundraiser for CARES of Farmington Hills, the group made a decision to create registries at Target, BuyBuy Baby, and Amazon.com.

That move proved invaluable as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) led to the cancellation of an in-person event planned March 22 at the nonprofit. The Jaycees have also expanded the event to include donations of pre-packaged lunch items for children out of school through April 5.

Make a blanket at home

For Farmington Hills-based Fleece & Thank You, the loss of a large charity event will mean fewer comforting blankets for Michigan children who are hospitalized. In response, the organization is turning to home-bound families for help making blankets and recording messages of hope.

Founder and CEO Nicholas Kristock said Fleece & Thank You relies heavily on big events during the year that bring together volunteers from six or seven cities to make fleece blankets. The next “Make a Blanket Day”, scheduled March 28 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, has been cancelled.

”We have 700 people signed up for the event,” Kristock said, adding plans included having a DJ, dancing, and other activities. “It was really shaping up to be an epic event for the community.”

While the nonprofit is trying to figure out how to reschedule the big event, the need for blankets is immediate. Kristock said making a blanket is an ideal project for families stuck at home because of COVID-19.

The process is simple: Kits ordered through fleeceandthankyou.org are delivered to your doorstep and come with easy-to-follow instructions. You can ship or hand-deliver the completed blankets to the Farmington Hills warehouse.

Kristock said the company follows “a rigorous quality control process” to ensure the blankets are not contaminated by the virus before delivering them to hospitals.

“First, we’re not taking the blankets out of packaging for 21 days,” he said. “They go through various processes and are sealed up in bags, where they sit again for another period of time.”

Those who make blankets also record a video message to encourage the recipient, Kristock said.

Direct delivery to CARES

With the Jaycees Baby Shower, the process also ensures no close contact for donors or contamination of items donated. Jaycee Autumn Hicks said anyone who wants to donate can simply order items off the registries, and they’ll be delivered directly to CARES of Farmington Hills.

“When we originally started to figure out what we were trying to plan, the registry is one of the first things we did,” said Hicks. “Because we already had that started, it was easy for us to move to a mostly online event.”

While a safe car seat installation demo planned at the event won’t happen, Hicks said representatives from the WIC (Women Infants & Children) nutrition program will record their presentations from home. Those will be shared Sunday on Facebook.

CARES of Farmington Hills has already begun receiving items ordered for the event, Hicks said.

“I’m shocked to see how many people have actually used it.”

The registry “wish list” links are posted at fajc.org/baby-shower-and-kids-lunch-items-for-cares.html.

To view the videos on Sunday and learn more, visit facebook.com/events/604192250134496/.