Any blanket can warm an ill, abused or traumatized child but it takes a special kind of blanket called a binky to warm their heart and let them know they’re cared about by others who don’t even know them.  These special blankets are made by the national non-profit organization Binky Patrol Comforting Covers forkids.  On October 22, the Temecula chapter of the organization gathered inside the gym of Van Avery Prep and sewed 30 blankets during a six-hour Bink-a-Thon.  Nearly 30 volunteers participated in the event, according to its organizer, Dana Polhill.

Polhill is the coordinator of the Temecula chapter and an art teacher at Van Avery Prep. She said the chapter began five years ago and meets once every two months at her Temecula home.  It has nore than 30 members who make blankets on a consistent basis; they produce approximately 300 a year.  The blankets are donated to area hospitals, shelters, foster care agencies and other organizations serving children.  The blankets made during the Bink-a-Thon were donated to Hugs Foster Care in Temecula.

Polhill said the difference between an ordinary blanket and a binky is the transfer of love and compassion that goes into creating it.  “Binkies are handmade with love and kindness and hopefully that transcends to the kids when they get it,” she said.  “We want them to know that somebody cares about them.”

It takes from one to five hours to make a blanket, depending on how complicated its design is and whether its sewed, quilted, knitted or crocheted.  Many of the quilted blankets made at the Bink-a-Thon were constructed from muslin squares that had been decorated with fabric markers by Van Avery Prep students and other kids in the community.  The squares had dinosaur, heart, flower, horse and sport art drawn on them.  Polhill said the Binky Patrol visits events like the Balloon and Wine Festival and the Race for the cure and asks kids to design muslin squares so they can be used to make blankets.

It takes about 30 squares to do one side of a small-sized blanket.  Carly Santiago, 13, a student at Van Avery Prep, participated in the Bink-a-Thon and laid squares on the gym floor to make a quilt design with some of her fellow students.  “I like creating blankets,” she said.  “It’s fun.”  She’s been involved with the Binky Patrol for three years.

Retiree Rexanne Daniels of Hemet was also at the Bink-aThon.  She used to work in a fabric store and found out about the Binky Patrol three years ago from a customer.  She thought it was a great idea and contacted Polhill to join.

Daniels has been sewing since she was 13 and loves to sew every day.  Last year she made 200 blankets while she was recouperating from knee replacement surgery.  She primarily makes blankets for boys because most of the other sewers prefer to make girl and baby blankets.  “I do rag quilts,” she said. “Its all out of scrap.  I throw nothing away.”

Cheryl Frye of Sun City was sewing at the event with her nephew, Collin Thurston, 9.  She’s a science teacher at Van Avery Prep and Collin is a student there.  Frye has been in the Binky Patrol for two years and makes about 20 blankets a year in her spare time.  She was helping Collin put together a boy’s quilt that had a sports design. She said Collin drew all the sports pictures for the quilt and wanted to do it because he’s concerned there aren’t enough blankets bring made for boys.

Collin tried sewing for the first time with his aunt’s assistance. She stood behind him at the sewing machine and helped him sew two blocks together.  She told him to push on the sewing machine pedal like a car’s pedal, but not too fast.  When he was done, he announced with a big smile that sewing was “cool.”

For more information on the Binky Patrol, call Polhill at (951) 699-8595.

* Article by Laurie Rathbun, photos by Edward Hannigan