LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — The carpeted floors of Mrs. Mauro’s seventh grade math classroom were covered in scraps of fleece, and passersby had to step around the students sitting on the tiles outside in the hallway as math class on Wednesday turned into a blanket-making session.
“You have two pieces of fabric,” explained Enzo Smajlovic. “You cut each of the corners, and then you kind of cut one to five inch slits, and you tie it.”
Seventh grade students like Smajlovic at Pinellas Preparatory Academy in Largo knocked out 100 double-sided, no-sew fleece blankets, going to sick kids at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, thanks to Mrs. Mauro.
“This is very special,” Betsy Mauro said. “We have kids here that have been treated at All Children’s Hospital through the years, and of course the community in itself — All Children’s is a huge representative for us.”
But there was one child in particular that got this started for Mauro.
“Back in 2010,” she said. “My oldest son, Chris, was diagnosed with leukemia, just before he was 17. He was treated down at All Children’s Hospital.”
She credits the hospital with giving her more time with her son, though he eventually died eight years ago. But, before he passed, family friends gave him a gift.
“Somebody had given him a two-sided fleece blanket,” Mauro recalled. “That sparked a need in our family to give back to the oncology wing.”
Though it’s worn in, Mauro still has that blanket to this day.
“I can live on with that legacy, and give back to other children, and give them hope and give them comfort through these blankets,” Mauro said. “So it means the world when I drop these blankets off.”
Her students agreed.
“It’s pretty fun to know that they’re going to go to a good cause,” Emma Ewans said. “To children that actually enjoy it.”
Ewans said she put together at least 10 blankets during her hour-long period in class.
“It makes me feel good that they do this, and that they do it every year too,” Ewans said. “Some kids probably look forward to it.”
Ewans said she took away exactly what Mauro wanted the lesson to be today — not equations or ratios, but how to celebrate someone.
“We wanted to take every day, live it to the fullest, and live it in honor,” Mauro said. “Honor his life, not his death.”
If you’d like to help out, you can drop off fabric at the school: two yards of a pattern and two yards of a coordinating color. You can also drop off or send in gift cards for fabric, like to Joann Fabrics, Walmart or Amazon.