Fourth and second-grade brothers organize charity

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Two years ago, then-second-grader Bryce Ivey decided to make a difference in his community. After watching a video in one of his computer classes at Helena Elementary School, thinking of those in need began to weigh heavily on his heart.

The video encouraged the students to serve those who were less fortunate than they were, and the message struck home for a child who has been working to help others since 2008.

“One night at bedtime, Bryce said he had seen a video about doing things for others in one of his classes at school,” said Lori, Bryce’s mother.

“When he was in preschool, he saw Patsy Riley speak about her Blankets with a Blessing program at the governor’s mansion,” she added. “He remembered that, and wanted to collect blankets to give to people. This project is all him. He has a very giving spirit.”

Although the video documented a group of kids involved in a canned food drive, Bryce said he wanted to create a project different from everyone else’s.

“The kids (in the video) collected canned foods and were giving them out to needy people,” Bryce said. “That night, I got to thinking about it, and I thought it would be good to donate blankets to people.

“I didn’t want to do something everyone else had done,” Bryce added. “I wanted to give blankets to New Beacon Hospice, because some of the people there are older, and they can’t get up to turn the heat on.”

This year, Bryce’s second-grade brother, Sawyer, asked how he could help his brother’s efforts, Lori said.

“Sawyer asked to do something to give back as well this year, so he is helping his brother,” she said. “Instead of having two things going on, we decided to unify in the blanket drive.”

Because Bryce moved onto Helena Intermediate School after his second-grade year, Sawyer’s involvement brought the blanket drive back to Helena Elementary School. This year, Sawyer has distributed flyers throughout the school, asked teachers to collect blankets in their classrooms and made presentations to a few classrooms, Lori said.

“He (Bryce) was doing the blanket drive, and I wanted to do it for ill and needy people,” Sawyer said. “I told my class about it, and I passed out some flyers to the teachers.”

For the past three years, the family has donated hundreds of blankets to the New Beacon Hospice in Alabaster, which provides in-home services to those facing terminal illnesses. Last year, the brothers donated more than 215 blankets to the hospice. This year, the family will donate to the Alabaster hospice and to the Homewood-based Amedisys Hospice Care company.

“Last year, New Beacon took us to meet two of the families who received the blankets,” Lori said. “That was a really neat thing, because they got to see firsthand who was benefiting from their work.”

Because the brothers created the project and work to organize it every year, Lori and her husband, Russell, typically play a support role for their sons.

“We don’t even have to bring it up every year. It’s just a given for them that they are going to collect blankets every year,” Lori said. “They have been thinking about it and planning for it all year.”

The Iveys have set up blanket drop-off locations at Helena Elementary School and Helena Intermediate School, and will be collecting blankets and throws until Dec. 15. For more information about the program, or to schedule a donation, call the family at 621-3699 or e-mail wrappedinwarmth@att.net.