OGDEN -- Employees at Boeing's Ogden site participated in the company's annual Global Month of Service, crafting and donating 106 blankets to patients at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Fourteen-year-old Kiersten Higgins, who said she recently underwent a heart transplant procedure at the hospital and was back at the facility receiving treatment for an infection, accepted the donation of blankets on behalf of the hospital Tuesday morning.
Blankets, such as those crafted by about 68 employees at the Ogden site with help from family members, who put in more than 300 total hours of volunteer time, are a "long-standing tradition" at the hospital, said Kiersten Clements from the Primary Children's Medical Center Foundation. They are given to patients throughout the hospital for such things as emergency room visits, procedures and for "Sleep Lab," she said.
"The blankets make it more comforting for them to be in a place like this, where it can get so intense sometimes," Clements said.
Higgins said these blankets help her to weather some uncomfortable situations.
"It does (help)," said Higgins, plucking a zebra-striped blanket with hot-pink accents from the pile. "I get chills, because I get lots of fevers."
Lance Garner, a community investor for Boeing in Utah, said many employees at the company's Ogden site have strong connections to Primary Children's, making it the clear choice to be the beneficiary of this year's service initiative.
"Primary Children's Medical Center has been instrumental in the lives of many of our employees and their families," he said.
Garner said he relied on the hospital's staff in the care of his two daughters, who were diagnosed with heart defects. His younger daughter, Kilie Garner, 12, underwent open-heart surgery at the hospital when she was 9 months old to repair defects to the barriers separating both of her atrial and ventricular chambers. Kassidy Garner, who is now 15, had a noninvasive procedure done when she was 12, after she was found to have an atrial defect. A device was inserted into the heart via an artery to patch the hole.
When Garner's daughters received treatment, he said, they drew comfort from the teddy bears and blankets given to them by the hospital.
"It meant a lot to my kids and to other employees at Boeing who have had similar experiences with the hospital," he said.
Boeing's Global Month of Service is carried out each year at sites throughout the world.
"In 2012, thousands of volunteers participated in nearly 100 events in 13 countries," Garner said.
Lisa Higgins, Kiersten's mother, said she is grateful for everyone who has helped care for her daughter and for the support she has received from those around her.
"It's amazing," she said. "The people and everything they have done have been amazing. It really helps her know people care."