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Operation Snuggle

Community members and students come together for one day each December to create hundreds of fleece blankets to be given to homeless students in the school district.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Students and families gather once a year to assemble fleece blankets for homeless students in the school district.The tasks to complete the mission for Operation Snuggle aren’t complicated. Take two pieces of fleece, match the squares together.

Cut strips about an inch to two inches wide on all four sides of the material. Then, tie the strips into knots.

With four people working on each side of the square, cutting and tying, a thick, warm fleece blanket is created in about 15 to 20 minutes.

While the task is simple, the results are magical, said Canby resident Dawn Depner who started Operation Snuggle in 2008 and has kept it going each year.

Even as she prepares for this year’s Operation Snuggle on Saturday, Dec. 5, at Baker Prairie Middle School in Canby, Depner said she’s amazed at how people of all ages come together and create fleece blankets to be given to homeless students in the school district.

This year, Depner is excited to have students from Molalla High School and community members from Molalla participate in Operation Snuggle to help homeless students in the Molalla and Colton school districts.

Depner said all people need to do is arrive around 9 a.m. at the school with some scissors and eagerness to assemble double-fleece blankets for homeless students. Based on last year’s numbers, Depner plans to make 270 blankets for homeless students in the Canby area and another 80 for students in Molalla, with the goal of making 380 blankets this year, and extra blankets made just in case.

“It will take about two to three hours to make 380 to 400 blankets,” Depner said, adding the more people who volunteer, the quicker the work is completed. “I tell people that they don’t need to know how to sew. Just how to cut and tie a knot.”

Depner is excited to have the Molalla River School District participate in Operation Snuggle this year.

“I cry every year just seeing how many amazing people come together to do a community service project to help kids,” Depner said, adding each homeless student will receive a fleece blanket and a pillow and pillowcase.

Michelle Rieskamp is the homeless children’s liaison for the Molalla River School District.

“Receiving a blanket and pillow gives the student a sense of security as they maneuver through an unstable time in their life,” Rieskamp said.

Mulino Elementary School Principal Alan Willey, who oversees the district’s homeless program, said Operation Snuggle is more than just a blanket and pillow.

“It shows symbolically that their classmates and community care about them,” Willey said.

Depner said Operation Snuggle gives the blankets to the school districts’ homeless liaisons.

“We don’t know who the blankets and pillows go to,” Depner said. “Each school in the district makes a list of what students could use the blankets and then the school gives them to the students.”

Rieskamp said the Key Club at Molalla High School will be helping make blankets for Operation Snuggle.

“This program is a great opportunity for MHS Key Clubbers to work with other students from different high schools for a common cause,” Rieskamp said. “My hope is that Key Clubbers will learn how impacting it can be to work with others. I also hope that each Key Clubber that participates will feel like they made a difference in someone's life. Hopefully, MHS students will continue their service endeavors after realizing that they can make an impact in their community.”

Both Rieskamp and Depner invite community members to join in for a fun morning of making blankets, adding everyone is welcome.

To date, Operation Snuggle along with the community of Canby has helped more than 2,300 students. This project could not be done without financial donations and the community coming together in one day to make all these blankets, Depner said