One of the unique services Niagara Hospice provides to every patient is a comfort tote that includes a lap blanket and other small items. Niagara Hospice volunteer coordinator Andrea Haseley said, "Patients especially love the blankets that come in the comfort totes. It's a small gesture to show them that we care and consider their comfort to be top priority."
Haseley said the supply of donated lap blankets has run low over the summer.
"We are in need of more community service groups and individuals who want to make a difference in a hospice patient's life by donating their time and talents to make lap quilts or blankets," she said.
Anyone interested in helping is asked to bring lap quilts or blankets to the Niagara Hospice administration building at 4675 Sunset Drive in Lockport anytime from 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The organization will accept new and unused blankets of any kind - knitted, crocheted, sewn, quilted or store-bought fleece. Although the blankets do not have to measure 30-by-40 inches, that size is preferred. For more information, call the volunteer department at 716-280-0748.
Niagara Hospice has already received some help from a talented patient.
Linda Culliver, a resident at Niagara Hospice House, likes to crochet in her spare time. She has been crocheting for most of her life and gives most of her completed projects away to family and friends who enjoy them for years. Although Culliver has crocheted a variety of items over the years, she most currently made a series of crocheted "granny squares" to be pieced together into several beautiful and warm blankets.
Over the past couple of months, Culliver had crocheted 240 granny squares waiting to be pieced together. She wanted to see the completion of this project, as it was her wish to donate them to residents of Niagara Hospice House - where she said she has received such exceptional care.
"Well, you can't take them with you; might as well give them to someone who can use them," Culliver said.
However, to see the project through, Culliver knew she needed some help. Fortunately, she learned her Niagara Hospice social worker also has a talent and love for crochet. Culliver gave the squares to her new friend, Niagara Hospice social worker Cheryl Ferguson, who was happy to put them together.
Ferguson visited Culliver recently with two of the completed blankets.
"She is an awesome person," Ferguson said of Culliver. "I love her to pieces."
As much as Culliver treasures the blankets she makes, she said she has never kept a single one. Every time she finishes one, she gives it away to someone who she knows will appreciate it. Culliver is glad to help out other hospice patients.
"I see why the Lord is keeping me around now. ... I just wish that all patients have the good fortune I've had," Culliver said
Meanwhile, another group of volunteers is providing hospice patients comfort in a different way. Univera Healthcare employees have modified more than 50 nightgowns for hospice patients who would otherwise have to wear hospital gowns. Univera employees receive eight hours of paid volunteer time a year to give back to the community, and this is the project they have chosen for this year.
Families who have had a loved one cared for in the hospital know the typical hospital gown can be ill-fitting and not as comfortable and pleasing to look at as a regular nightgown. Univera volunteers addressed the problem by modifying store-bought gowns by cutting them in the back and adding ties. The modified gowns are easy for patients to get in and out of, comfortable and fashionable. They also provide a feeling of home and normalcy.
The Univera nightgown project benefits patients of three hospice organizations in Western New York: Hospice Buffalo, Niagara Hospice and Hospice of Chautauqua County.
For more information, visit www.NiagaraHospice.org or call 716-HOSPICE.