By Daniele Berman, Operations Manager
Her vision and mind may not be as clear as they once were, but at age 90, Viola Grace has not let those challenges stop her from finding a beautiful way to contribute to a cause that she loves. With the help of her daughter Maggi, Viola has made at least 100 precious no-sew fleece blankets, many of which she has given to the children in our Book Babies program.
Viola is the oldest of six children of Czech immigrants. She grew up on a farm in rural Ohio, where her mother made all of her children’s clothes by hand. Viola was always an avid reader, and her mother often had to set limits on how many chapters of a book she was allowed to read before she was forced to go outside to play! Viola carried on her mother’s legacy, making many of her own five children’s clothes herself. She also carried her love of reading into adulthood. Add to that her life-long love of babies—which even led her to volunteer in the neonatal intensive care unit when she was able—and that’s what gave Maggi the perfect idea for a project for her mother.
Although Viola is no longer able to sew, her work on the fringes of the blankets she makes for our Book Babies is meticulous. Each knot is tied in precisely the same direction, as she patiently demonstrates for me, and she also hand-braids the roping that she makes with extra fabric to tie up each of the blankets. Her fabric choices are also very particular, each 1.5-yard piece carefully selected for color and pattern, each with particular specifications for a baby girl or a baby boy—not too bright, not too busy, not too scary, not too dull.
Viola knows the comfort a cozy blanket can bring to a baby curled up for storytime on his or her parent’s lap, and she sends each individually wrapped blanket off with a kiss for the baby, “maybe on the ear or the cheek,” she says, as she knows that new mothers are particular about that sort of thing. Viola protests when I remark on the selflessness of all the work she does on her blankets: “It’s really not that hard! And what else do I have to do?” But the truth is that the hours and hours she spends on each blanket are a true labor of love on behalf of the babies she hopes will have a bright start on the way to becoming book lovers like she has always been.
On behalf of all the babies and their families who love your blankets, Viola and Maggi, thank you for sharing this beautiful gift!