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Students at Otto Petersen Elementary School organize blanket collection drive

Donations made to homeless shelter in Portland in late December

COURTESY OF HATTIE SCHROTZBERGER - From left to right, Makenzie Hoag, Kaylie Schrotzberger, Kennady Hoag, Addison Schrotzberger, and Kalen Remmers, hold blankets they collected during a blanket drive in late 2014. This year, several of the students at Otto Petersen Elementary School organized another blanket drive to help those in need. What started as a small community service project by one fourth-grade student has grown into a annual collection of blankets for those in need.

A group of students at Otto Petersen Elementary School collected donations to provide to homeless shelters in December prior to Christmas break.

Fifth-grader Kaylie Schrotzberger decided to start a supply drive last winter after watching a YouTube video about sock collection drives. Kaylie adapted the idea to collect blankets for people in need and started asking friends for help last winter.

She and four other students, fifth-graders Dylan Mann, Kalen Remmers, Ashley O’Tierney, and sixth-grader Makenzie Hoag, worked together to promote the month-long blanket drive at Otto Petersen Elementary School in December. Kaylie's mother, Hattie Schrotzberger, said her daughter was careful to promote the blanket drive in a way that wouldn't detract attention from the canned food drive the school was holding at the same time.

With the help of their school counselor, Laurie Gottschalk, Kaylie and Hoag filmed a short video describing the blanket drive for other students, which teachers showed in their classrooms. The students also designed fliers to hang around the school, just after Thanksgiving break.

In 2014 the students collected close to 20 blankets. This year, they collected more than 50, which were donated to the St. Francis Dining Hall in Portland on Tuesday, Dec. 29. Hattie Schrotzberger said the experience of donating the blankets in person helped Kaylie see the impact of how the donation was able to help others.

“It's not the first experience [with helping homeless individuals], but it definitely solidified that there are people who really do need help,” Hattie Schrotzberger said.

Hattie Schrotzberger said Kaylie plans to continue the blanket drive next year with the goal of donating some blanket to the Warming Center in St. Helens.