Senior sews warmth and security

Whitney High student makes and donates fleece blankets to comfort those in need
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Kayley Marshall’s community involvement is like a an elaborate tapestry with so much detail it’s hard to pinpoint where the 18-year-old is going next. As she graduates from Whitney High School this June, Marshall will be remembered for her brawn, brains, and beauty, but maybe most of all for the way she designs a fleece blanket. The nationally recognized girls wrestler and former Miss Teen Placer County has never been a stranger to community service and after helping with an event benefiting domestic violence victims a few years ago, Marshall came up with an idea that wove together all of her assets. “I started collecting pageant dresses my freshman year and as I outgrew them I sold them to make them affordable for girls who couldn’t afford dresses from the department store,” Marshall said. “I saw there was a need for blankets at hospitals and nursing homes so I used the profits from the dresses to buy materials to make blankets.” Warm, colorful, and comforting fleece blankets that Marshall started donating to the Project Linus organization for seriously ill and traumatized children, Shriners Hospital, a domestic violence center, and Rocklin’s Casa de Santa Fe senior community. So many blankets that Marshall enlisted the help of Rocklin’s Boy Scout Troop 435 to help with the final knots on more than 75 of them. “It gave me a sense of accomplishment to see what we had finished and it gave me a good feeling about helping out with her project,” said Ethan Flake, 14, of Troop 435. Marshall, who can spot a good fabric remnant on the roll and find a match for any fleece print or solid, does her best to imagine who will be wrapped in each of her comfy creations. “I think of all the little girls and little boys out there who are really scared and how I’m able to give something of comfort to them during a rough time,” Marshall said. “I may not be able to be there, but I know my blanket will be.” After donating a number of blankets to Casa de Santa Fe in Rocklin, Marshall was honored to be able to take some photos with the residents who she’s helped stay a little warmer. “They were just very thrilled – it just brought them a lot of joy to receive something warm and snuggly from somebody who made it personally,” said Tammie Medlin, activities director of the senior community. With 150 gowns still in her possession and preparations for the Miss Placer County Pageant this summer, Marshall’s effort to blanket her community with soft and soothing snuggles is going strong. In the fall Marshall will attend The George Washington University where she’s been recruited to play for the Colonials women’s water polo team. Her college plans have left her looking for ways to continue her blanket donation project. “I think what I might do is get the Boy Scout troop more involved,” said Marshall who’s younger brother Hayden, 13, is active in scouts. “I’d really like to thank my parents for putting up with all the dresses in our home and the blankets that take up a whole room.” Marshall’s dad has watched his daughter work hard to balance her blanket budget and make funds go as far as possible. “Kayley’s always been somebody who’s wanted to give back to the community, “said Andy Marshall. “If it hasn’t been at church, it’s been at Girl Scouts or adventuring.” Whitney High School Principal Debra Hawkins said Marshall has been a great Wildcat. “Along with her dedication to academics, athletics and activities, she also found time to log 1,225 hours of community service,” Hawkins said. Marshall said creating kids blankets and lap blankets for seniors is a fun way to make a difference in the community.