Each semester, the nursing students at Newman University volunteer an hour of their time to make blankets for victims of sexual assault. The tradition began a few years ago when a Newman student approached Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple with the idea for a service project.
Carla Scheer — that student's mother — has been making blankets for SANE/SART (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners/Sexual Assault Team), a program Wesley Medical Center started in 2013 to help victims of sexual assault.
"My nieces, their moms and I sat down one day and decided we were so blessed and we needed to do something to help others," explained Scheer. "So we decided to start making blankets and take them to the Wichita Children's Home. There, I ran into one of our friends (who) was a nurse working with SANE/SART. Once she explained what they do, we knew it was a good fit."
Siple said the response from the students the first time they made blankets for Scheer was so positive, she decided she would offer the same opportunity the following semester. And then from there, it just stuck.
"I am so moved by the dedication of our students," said Siple. "All of them had class all morning until noon and then again at 1 p.m. They spent their lunch hour devoting time to this project even when a third of them had an exam during their 1 p.m. class."
The project had an extra special meaning to Ashley, one of the current nursing students who volunteered to help out this semester. She was once on the receiving end of this project.
"I knew that we (the nursing students) made these blankets when my incident happened, and it meant so much more to me, knowing that I’m a part of that nursing community at Newman and that my fellow classmates are volunteering their time to help. I connected with them on a deeper level because of that."
She continued, "Receiving the blanket after going through such a difficult time ... it meant that somebody cared. They took time out of their day to make the blanket not even knowing who it would go to."
She said she still uses the blanket regularly and it is particularly popular with her young son.
Ashley said since coming to Newman, she has grown in her spiritual connection with God. She said the best part of making the blankets is actually praying over them when they are done.
"Knowing that the blankets are prayed over means having faith that things will get better. And I know my situation, it was probably a better outcome than others, and it just meant a lot to me."
Junior Angela De Souza is currently part of the nursing program at Newman and said this was her first semester helping with the blankets.
De Souza said, "I think it’s a really good way to show support to the community and to show that we care, beyond the classroom, and it’s a good way to incorporate all the students and provide support to those who need it."
She also said praying over the blankets was special to her. "Prayer over the blankets is a good way to bring us all together at the very end ... and prayers don’t often have to be told in front of the person, so we can offer our intentions even though we don’t know who they blankets are going to."
When the blankets have been completed and prayed over, a card containing a Bible verse and a handwritten note is attached to each one. Scheer said, "The nurses (at Wesley) have told me that they (the recipients) will say they feel loved for the first time in their life after receiving the blanket and card."
The students working on this semester's project approached Siple after asking why they ran out of material as quickly as they did. Siple explained they just didn't have the money to purchase more material at the time. After hearing that response, student Nikki Miller decided to take action.
"She secured a $1,000 donation from Husky Liners in Winfield," exclaimed Siple. "We will use this money to buy material for the spring. God is so good and I love the way He works through our students."