By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – From its humble beginnings in 2012, when Susan Posterro, her mother Lynne McAtee and a handful of sewing volunteers began creating blankets for seriously ill children, Binkeez for Comfort has grown steadily.
Binkeez for Comfort is now a Guidestar Platinum-rated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides blankets to babies and children struggling to survive life-threatening illnesses, acute developmental and mental disorders and severe burns, all the while offering support to parents, siblings and caregivers.
Headquartered in Shrewsbury, Binkeez for Comfort partners with leading hospitals and their pediatric oncology, ICU, organ transplant, end of life and palliative care programs.
Since 2013, blanket production has increased more than tenfold – from an average of 30 to 35 blankets monthly to more than 350 in 2016. A total of 4,300 were delivered last year free of charge to families and hospitals across the United States.
In addition, Binkeez continues to gain affiliations with prominent children’s hospitals throughout the country, most recently St. Jude Children’s Hospital for end of life comfort and Shriners Hospital for newly and severely burned children.
To continue to support its growth, the Binkeez for Comfort Board of Directors and Executive Director Posterro have organized “Binkeez and Blooms: An Evening of Giving” at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston Friday, May 19, from 7-11 p.m. The evening will feature festive libations and hors d’oeuvres served in the Winter Garden, dinner provided by Struck Catering, silent auctions and live entertainment. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about this extraordinary organization and the families it serves.
“What a gift our inaugural gala will be,” Posterro said. “It will plant the seeds that will help our organization in continuing to support the bravest of pediatric children and families who are facing the unthinkable.”
“This is our first year holding a gala event, as opposed to smaller-scale fundraisers to date,” explained Board President Melissa Pride-Fahs. “The organization has been growing like gangbusters over the last year. In order to produce the number of blankets necessary to keep up with growth, we needed to create an event to raise funds.”
The challenge, she noted, is not only producing enough blankets, but producing them according to the strict guidelines required by the hospitals and patients. Binkeez blankets are constructed from fabrics that are lead free, hypoallergenic and have been independently tested to pass Consumer Safety Act protection laws and government safety standards.
Pride-Fahs assured that no matter how big the organization gets, they will not change the fabric quality or the quality of the sewing.
“The board wants to make sure that the organization stays true to mission, even during its growth,” Pride-Fahs said. “We want the same quality guidelines. We want to do it exactly the same way when there are 4,000 blankets as when there were four.”
Each Binkeez blanket is sewn by committed volunteers who dedicate over 620 hours each month, she added.
Given the organization’s reach, another major expense are shipping costs, as Binkeez delivers to 24 hospitals and ships to families in all 50 states, Pride-Fahs noted.
The upcoming event has more than 25 sponsors, including Presenting Sponsor European Wax Center of Westborough.
Owner Terri Radley, who is also a Binkeez board member, said she has worked with the organization for a long time.
“It’s an amazing cause and we support it 100 percent,” she said.
While this year’s event is already sold out, there is always a need for sponsors, volunteers and donations.
For more information or to purchase a blanket, visit www.binkeezforcomfort.org. To donate, visit http://giving.binkeezforcomfort.org. Those who are interested in sponsorship or volunteer opportunities can contact Pride-Fahs at [email protected].