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Listowel Ford conducts second annual Blanket Drive

WARM GESTURE – (Left) Listowel Ford is conducting its second annual Blanket Drive in support of the Children’s Health Foundation at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The charitable drive, initially conceived by Ford sales consultant Matt Cory (pictured at left), aims to collect new blankets, sheets and quilts for use by hospitalized children and their families in London. Also pictured is Listowel Ford owner Brent Ravelle. (Dan McNee photo)

LISTOWEL – It’s incredible how a simple act of kindness can make such a huge difference in someone’s life. And sometimes that simple act can even help save that life.

Listowel Ford is conducting its second annual Blanket Drive in support of the Children’s Health Foundation at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The charitable drive, initially conceived by Ford sales consultant Matt Cory, aims to collect new blankets, sheets and quilts for use by hospitalized children and their families in London. Blankets are in high demand in the NICU, with quarantine protocols demanding that they be utilized for single-use only.

“We wanted to do something very personal,” said Cory. “The NICU at Sick Kids is always in need of blankets.”

“When something goes in, it can’t come out. It’s either going out with the family to that home, or that individual child gets to keep it. I’m actually blown away by the amount of people in this area alone that have used the London NICU. Fifty-three per cent of their patients are from outside of London.”

London Health Sciences Centre serves a population of more than 2.3 million residents in southwestern Ontario – 400,000 of them children. The Children’s Hospital received over 117,000 patient visits in 2018 alone (320 per day). There were over 37,000 clinical visits to the Pediatric Medical Day Unit, and 36,000 through Emergency services. Over 900 critically-ill babies were treated by the NICU last year.

Cory himself was an NICU baby in his native Sault Ste. Marie, and is understandingly very emotionally close to the Blanket Drive initiative.

“I know the importance of NICU because I would not be here,” he said. “I know my mother is very thankful for the NICU.”

Cory shared other stories of individuals and families who have donated blankets to the cause, including that of a couple married of 43 years who has made it an annual tradition to purchase new blankets for the Drive; both their daughters required NICU hospitalization – one now works in the London NICU. And recently, a mother dropped off sheets for the Drive with her new baby daughter who just spent the past three months at the London NICU.

“It’s to make people think about the services we have available to us,” said Cory. “You never know when your child might need Sick Kids Hospital. Around this time of year too, it’s just that magical feeling. There’s nothing better than when someone comes in and brings a bunch of blankets.”

The Listowel Ford Blanket Drive only accepts new blankets, neonatal bed sheets, quilts and receiving blankets – either purchased or handmade. The inaugural event collected over 200 blankets for donation, and with the 2019 edition already halfway to that number, Cory is optimistic the mark will be reached again. The Listowel TD Canada Trust branch is also accepting blanket contributions on Ford’s behalf, with a donation cutoff date for both locations set for Friday, Dec. 20.

Donations can be made anonymously, and can also be mailed to Listowel Ford directly at 1199 Wallace Ave. N. Listowel, Ont., N4W 3H2. Those seeking more information on the Blanket Drive can contact Cory at the dealership by calling 519-291-3520.

“The emotions when people come in and donate the blankets…they just want to tell you their story,” said Cory. “They want to be heard and they’re just so thankful. When they were there (at the London NICU), someone was also able to provide a blanket for mom and dad when they sat up in a chair all night.”