Why Stop Here…

If you would have told us last January that by the end of 2016 we’d be co-directing a non-profit organization, none of us would have believed you; in fact, I dare say we would have gotten a good chuckle at the absurdity of the idea. Life has an interesting way of guiding us places we maybe wouldn’t have found or chosen on our own–the founding of Hearts Tied Together proves just that.

The past eight months have been a whirlwind. We’ve definitely had our fair share of stumbling blocks, but from the conception of Hearts Tied Together till now we have felt divine guidance leading this organization to who it needs to help and what it needs to become. Refugee children have always been and will continue to be our primary focus; however, we’ve been led to other children in our midst seeking refuge, love, and acceptance. With that in mind, we are excited to announce the next direction for Hearts Tied Together.

Besides continuing to partner with Catholic Community Services and International Rescue Committee to provide every refugee child being resettled in Utah with a blanket and individual note upon arrival, donor-prompted donations in other states, and annual international shipments, we are excited to now include donations to children in abuse and homeless shelters as well. Although we were originally hesitant to expand our purpose and vision, we’ve come to realize that there are more children seeking refuge than just international refugees. For this reason, our organization’s new purpose is to provide comfort blankets and personal notes of encouragement to children seeking refuge from war, persecution, civil unrest, abuse, and homelessness.

We’re looking forward to the future of Hearts Tied Together and are confident our expanded mission statement and outreach will make an even greater impact in the lives of children seeking refuge in Utah, the United States, and internationally…we hope you agree!

*Changes to our website reflecting this expansion will occur over the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience!

Photocred: SquareChange

Got Fleece?

We are excited to announce that we are one of this year’s Be A Philanthropist Grant recipients! We’ve been selected by Brigham Young University to receive $500 from the Sorensen Legacy Foundation to buy fleece for donors who would like to participate in tying blankets for Hearts Tied Together, but limited funds may prevent them from participating to the extent they’d like to (i.e. youth, students, young families, individuals or families on a limited budget, donors planning a large event without funds to cover all the fleece needed, etc.).

More information about applying for and collecting the free fleece will be posted on our website and Facebook page towards the end of the year. Fleece will be available beginning the first week in January.

You can find out more about Be A Philanthropist by liking their Facebook page or exploring their website. They offer grants regularly to BYU students and community members desiring to organize and carry out a charitable project domestically or internationally. Links are found below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeAPhilanthropist/?fref=ts

Website: http://www.beaphilanthropist.com

 

1,000 is the Magic Number

We received our 1,000th blanket!!!

Granted, this announcement is a tad anticlimactic as we’re probably closer to 1,300 by now (Once again… my blog updating skills have been sub par. My apologies!), but it’s a number to celebrate nonetheless. Why is 1,000 blankets so exciting? Well…

  • 1,ooo blankets in six short months means we’ve received approximately 167 blankets a month, which averages out to about five blankets a day. Five blankets a day may not seem like much, but imagine if we kept this going for another six months, another year, another 10 years–imagine if every day five more children seeking refuge from life’s greatest challenges felt warm, needed, and loved. Just imagine.
  • 1,000 blankets mean there are dozens of people, hundreds, even thousands of people out there who care. People who don’t just read or watch the news with sorrow, but rather stand up and do something about it. Our donors might just be one person or maybe just a small group of people, but 100 individuals or 50 small groups make a huge difference when they focus their efforts on a bigger picture. No donation is too small when added to the donations of others.
  • 1,000 blankets mean we don’t have to be as limited or restrictive to who receives those blankets–we can donate blankets to more children, in more places, coming from a wider range of backgrounds and circumstances. Not only can we provide blankets to every refugee child being resettled in Utah, but we can provide blankets to other children in need (more on this in our upcoming announcements!).

Thank you for your support and generosity. We never dreamed 1,000 blankets were possible, but you’ve proven us wrong–1,000 blankets are just the beginning.

img_0322Here it is, the lucky 1000th blanket!

 

True Blue and Generous Too

Last weekend we had a wonderful opportunity to see both holiday spirit and school spirit put into action at Bingham High School’s True Blue Late Night Service Activity. Over 100 students filed into their school’s cafeteria at 9:00 pm on Friday night to listen to a short presentation about refugees and Hearts Tied Together, watch Christmas movies, and tie blankets.

We were so impressed by Bingham High’s students unity and eagerness to serve. They finished over 100 blankets in 3 hours with heartfelt individual notes of love, encouragement, and holiday greetings attached to each one.

“We welcome you with open arms and a lot of love. Have a wonderful holdiay season!”

“Good luck on your fresh start! You are never alone!”

“Happy Holdiays! Remember you are special and loved more than you know.”

“You are so strong and wonderful. You are a light to the world. We love you.”

In a world that can often appear dark, lonely, and full of hate, these students were a radiant example of light, friendship, and love. These teenagers’ generosity and goodness was proof that the future of their school, community, state, and country is in good hands. Thank you Bingham High School for making your school proud and the world a better place.

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Utah Refugee Partnerships

When people think of refugees, images of refugee camps in distant European, African, or Middle Eastern countries usually come to mind. However, there are thousands of refugees living among us attempting to adjust to a foreign land, language, people, and culture. For most refugees, immigrating to the United States and being placed in safe housing isn’t the end of their concerns, but a wave of entirely new concerns. Imagine the heartache of fleeing from your beloved, yet war-stricken, childhood home; leaving people, places, languages, and customs you had grown up with your entire life only to resettle among strangers, speaking a strange language, in a strange place. This is a frightening and confusing experiences for all refugees, but particularly the children who are placed here.

Adjusting to American culture will take time, but helping refugees who settle here feel welcome is a great first step. For this reason, we are excited to announce our recent partnership with Utah’s International Rescue Committee and Catholic Community Services, the two largest refugee placement organizations in the state. Together we are committed to provide each child being relocated here a fleece blanket of their choice accompanied with a personalized note of encouragement and welcome upon their arrival. As they begin their new journey in Utah, their bright-colored blankets will be a comfort they can rely on amidst a future filled with change and uncertainty.

Our first international shipment may have left for Armenia, but our work is not done. We will need 1500 blankets by the end of the year. Please participate and share this great opportunity with family, friends, and acquaintances in Utah. If you would like to participate but live out-of-state, we’d love to help you find your local IRC or CCS chapter to donate to.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or to find a donation pick-up/drop-off location near you.

blankets2 Hearts Tied Together representative (Julie) with representatives from International Rescue Committee (Cate and Jesse)

blankets1 Hearts Tied Together representative (Julie) with Catholic Community Services representatives (Janet and Brad)

 

 

Humbled.

When we launched Hearts Tied Together two short weeks ago, we had no idea the overwhelming response we’d soon witness from family members, friends, acquaintances and total strangers within such a short window of time. Our first international shipment of fleece blankets was leaving Utah for Armenian refugee camps in 16 days. With such a close deadline, we set a “realistic” goal to send at least 30 blankets to the many Syrian refugees encamped there, realizing our contribution would be minimal, but appreciated nonetheless. A few days later, we had 30 blankets piled in our living rooms so we increased our goal to 40 instead…

277 Blankets, 31 Hats, and 1 Burp Rag Later.

blankets don

Hearts Tied Together representative (Julie) with our Armenian refugee representative (Ohannes)

Thank you for providing 237 more refugees with a warmer, hopefully more peaceful, night ahead. We are appreciative, amazed, and humbled by the contributions and generosity of so many. On behalf of Hearts Tied Together and the many refugees receiving these blankets in the next few weeks… THANK YOU.

First International Shipment!!!

We have an amazing opportunity to partner with Ohannes Megerdichian, a Syrian-born Armenian, to send a shipment of blankets to Syrian refugees located in Armenia. The following is an excerpt from his recent request for supplies from community members:

“When I heard Elder Patrick Kearon say “their story is our story; not that many years ago” I thought to myself… “their story is my personal story, not that many years ago.” Except, I received lots of help while attending Ricks College and BYU.

I am Armenian, born in Syria. I ended up in Sandy (Utah) traveling through Cyprus, Lebanon, Rexburg (Idaho) and Provo (Utah).

Even though I was lucky enough to get out of Syria in time to receive excellent education and career in the US, most of my fellow Armenians weren’t as fortunate. They stayed in Syria minding their own business until the civil war started almost 5 years ago. And then, ISIS took over most of the country and after destroying most of the Armenian churches and schools, they started killing Christians (99.9% of Armenians are Christians). To escape the massacre, about 20,000 Armenians ends up in the Republic of Armenia as refugees. We don’t hear much about them because most of the world is concentrating on the refugees in Turkey or Greece. While Turkey and Greece receive billions in aid, Armenia receives hardly any.

During my career, I helped hundreds of dental offices with dental products when they ventured into foreign countries to do humanitarian work and Boy Scouts with their Eagle projects… to mention a few. Now, I am asking you to help me collect supplies to send to the Armenian refugees, who traveled from Syria to Armenia fleeing atrocities. The refugees have been a huge burden to the Armenia’s economy… and that’s why I am getting involved.

We desperately need… blankets… as many as we can get. Winters in Armenia are even colder than winters in Utah.”

THAT’S WHERE WE BECOME INVOLVED!!!

Ohannes will be driving the blankets we collect and other various supplies from community members to California where they will be shipped directly to Armenia.

The deadline for this first international shipment will be APRIL 27, 2016. We need as many blankets as possible within the next two weeks!!! Please share this information with friends and family and help us send AT LEAST 40 blankets to these Armenian Refugees.  We know it’s short notice, but 40 is a very reasonable number to achieve.

We will post future donation opportunities and deadlines as they come up!