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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Comfort and Gratitude

I remember the moment in September when I received the phone call from Charise letting me know of AJ's brain tumor diagnosis. A few hours later it dawned on me that I had Lani as my Christmas service recipient. I remember feeling overwhelmed with wanting to do something meaningful for her, just as I felt in September 2013 in the weeks after Ryan passed away when I realized that I had him as my Christmas service recipient. In both of those traumatic events for our family, I wanted to just reach out and hug those that were hurting. I wanted to help comfort them even when far away.


One thing that can bring comfort is being able to wrap up in a nice cozy blanket. Soon after AJ's diagnosis, our Relief Society announced that we were doing service project combined with another ward and the local quilter's guild to make blankets or "comfort quilts" for a local organization called ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. ASK (Assistance, Support, Kindness) strives to make life better for children with cancer by providing supportive services for families with a child diagnosed with cancer. We would be making blankets that ASK would be able to give to children that come into receive treatments at our local hospital for cancer treatments. The child would be able to choose a blanket to keep with them and help bring them comfort in hospitals.

I knew that I wanted to help with this service project in honor of Lani (and AJ). I called the woman with the quilter's guild who is also in our ward to ask how I could help, more than just attending the main day of the service project when blankets would be made. She said the main need was supplies. The number of blankets that would be able to be made purely depended on the amount of fabric that was donated. I knew that it was not in my budget to just go buy a lot of fabric, so I decided to solicit donations from stores that sold fabric for the event.

I wrote a letter about the service project and the need for supplies along with information about the ASK organization and took it to 4 different Wal-Marts in the area. Now I procrastinated this step a little bit and took all the needed materials just a few days before the big blanket making service project night, so I wasn't sure anyone would respond with a donation. Well just a few hours later after dropping them off, I had one Wal-Mart worker call me and say that she wanted to donated a $50 gift card in order for me to get supplies. Awesome!! I was so excited. That was enough to make two big nice quilts.

I took Eddie with me to help pick out a fabric that a little boy just like our little AJ would love to cuddle under. I was a little overwhelmed with the rows of fabric choices, but we found the perfect Lightning McQueen material.

At the blanket making service project night, lots of sisters gathered with sewing machines and material to make quilts. It was such a fun night with friends. I loved one good friend's of mine material choice of Star Wars and thought of a little boy and a big boy that would hopefully love these blankets.

A few weeks after the blanket making, at the quilter's guild's December meeting, they would "present" ASK with the donation of blankets. The day before this night, I received a phone call from another Wal-Mart saying that she knew the event was the next day, but she really wanted to give a donation if there was still a need. I said YES, of course! So the next morning I picked up another $50 gift card and went to buy more material. I was planning to finish off a blanket that morning with a friend, and in addition we now were able to make a total of three blankets.

When the blankets were presented to ASK, a total of 84 blankets were given. What a wonderful blessing of comfort those blankets will bring to parents like Lani as they try to comfort their children going through treatment for their cancer.

As I worked on this project and getting donations and learning more about ASK, I realized that I really would like to work with a non-profit organization such as ASK in the future on a permanent basis one day. They can do so much good for so many families.


Another project that I worked on for Lani is one of showing gratitude. When the family received AJs diagnosis, so many friends came running offering help of dinners and helping with the other children while Lani and Michael cared for AJ. Lani is always so grateful for all that she receives. I remember once receiving a custom made thank you note with family pictures from Lani. It was years ago and I had it hung on my fridge for weeks.  I decided to write thank you notes to as many as I could that offered service to the Hock family. I could not be there in person to help with meals or kids, and I am so grateful for those that did reach out to help.

While in NC, Chuck connected with a member of Lani's ward and acquired a list of those that signed up to help and the mailing addresses for as many as we could.

Chuck also helped create an awesome card reminding us of the importance of looking for opportunities to serve others in need every single day.

I included these cards in each thank you note that I mailed.

I wrote one of my favorite quotes in each card. "God watches over us and hears our prayers, but it is sometimes through someone else He meets our needs." - Spencer W Kimball

I sent about 30 thank you notes in honor of Lani to her friends that served her in her time of need. In addition, I gave notes to the ladies at Wal-Mart that helped give the $50 gift cards for the blanket making which also included #HeIstheGift pass along cards.

Thank you Lani for your example of comfort and gratitude. I loved the opportunity to serve in honor of you this year.

PS - Everytime I see one of these at McDonad's, I now drop in my change.

I was also supposed to go make treats at our local Ronald McDonald House, but I got sick and wasn't able to reschedule since I am still sick.


  1. Ashley, thank you thank you thank you! I'm reading this with mom, char, and Mitzi and they all said, " hey, I've seen one of those in someone's house!" Thank you for taking care of this! It was such a relief to know someone was on top of those because I really do love a good thank you card! And so great that you went above and beyond with,the quilts and seeking out donations! I love you so much sister and am so grateful to also call you friend! Love you!

  2. Ash... I am so gald u came to our family to live...so special, I too drop my change in all the time.