KAYSVILLE -- When 11-year-old Holly Witherspoon helped her fifth-grade class make fleece blankets to donate to Primary Children's Medical Center, she had no idea the project would soon benefit her family.
In December, the fifth-graders at Endeavor Elementary School chose to perform a service project, rather than have a Christmas party. The classes made several fleece blankets.
Many families donated fabric to create the blankets. Students then cut into the edges of the fabric to make a fringe of strips all around the main body of fabric, and each strip was tied in a knot. The result was a soft fleece blanket with a fun decorative edge.
The blankets were then donated to Primary Children's Medical Center. The hospital gives them to sick children who are admitted to the hospital. It was the third year the fifth-grade had performed the service project.
A few short months later, Holly's 8-year-old sister, Fiona, was rushed to the emergency room with severe symptoms of a kidney infection.
"I took her into Primary Children's expecting them to do an ultrasound and confirm a kidney infection," said Bonnie Jean Witherspoon, Holly and Fiona's mother. "When we got there, her heart rate dropped and her blood pressure was high. They got her stable in the ER, and then admitted her for 48 hours."
Bonnie Jean said she hadn't gone to the hospital prepared for admittance, so she was pleasantly surprised when Fiona was given a soft fleece blanket as she reached her room.
"When I got into the room that I was going to be staying in, they brought a blanket with them ... It's warm and soft," Fiona said.
The blanket was a source of comfort for both Fiona and her mother.
"She just curled right up in it. It was really comforting to her," Bonnie Jean said.
It wasn't until a few days later, when Fiona returned home, that the family realized Holly had helped make the blanket that had warmed her sister in the hospital.
"We came in the door and Holly just lit up and said, 'That is the first blanket we tied,'" said Bonnie Jean.
After a little research, the Witherspoons discovered that a family friend had donated the fabric for Fiona's blanket.
Bonnie Jean sent pictures of the blanket to Holly's teacher, along with a note expressing her thanks for their service.
"I wanted the kids to really feel that spirit of service. They had touched one of their own families," Bonnie Jean said.
Bonnie Jean described the tremendous stress of having a child in the hospital, with its many worries and sleepless nights. She said the whole experience now feels like a blur.
However, the service they received was something they will always remember.
Fiona said the blanket is now one of her favorites.
"It was touching, because we serve and sometimes we just send off the money or whatever, but we don't always realize how much it means until suddenly you are on the receiving end," Bonnie Jean said.
"It was just touching to see my kids and the kids at the school understand. It's not often that it comes so close to home that way, and you can see the end result of your service."