Blairsville blanket project

Blairsville High School’s National Honor Society made blankets to benefit are homeless children. Pictured are, front row, from left, Joshua Cunningham, Angela Deyarmin, Bridget Doyle and Garrett Henigin. In the second row, from left, are Mackenna Emanuel and Jonathan Bush. In the back row, from left, are Isabella Previte, Ian Smyth, Eli Clevenger and Daniel Kukula. (Harper Wehrer/Blairsville High School)

This project comes as part of a bigger goal of the NHS, which is to give back to the community as much as possible.

“One of my main focuses this year is the pillar of service,” said NHS adviser Joshua Cunningham. He said that although NHS often puts on days at school to raise money for different causes, “I also wanted to do projects outside of school.”

Member Angela Deyarmin added, “We want to help out the homeless. We are doing a bunch of projects for the less fortunate, so that’s really our goal.”

NHS members and other student volunteers who helped with the project were supportive of its motives. Marissa Fay, a junior who helped to make the blankets, explained about the important information that it conveyed, saying, “I think it does a lot to raise awareness. I didn’t know that there were any homeless students in our area who needed help.”

NHS member Eli Clevenger added, “It was a nice experience to help people who were less fortunate.”

“I thought that it was really fun because we knew that we were doing something good,” said Abby Hays, another junior volunteer. 

The project of making these blankets for homeless students is part of the services that the ARIN Intermediate Unit provides to schools and children in the area.

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, a homeless student is “any child or youth without a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

Many different schools help by making the blankets, for which ARIN supplied the fabric. Then, Cunningham said, “Our point person, Andrea Sheesley, who is in charge of the ARIN program, will distribute them to kids from pre-K through 12th grade who are homeless. All of the blankets we make will stay in Indiana County.”

The idea to help out in this way began last year when Cunningham’s wife, Lauren Cunningham, was the NHS adviser in Saltsburg. According to Cunningham, “I helped by organizing a small service project. Everyone liked it, so when I became the adviser this year, I brought it back.”

Cunningham hopes to bring this project back next year on a bigger scale.

“We actually ran them out of fabric, but hopefully we will get there early next year. We made nine this year, but I hope for 20 next year.”