(Photo by Jill Bock, Staff)
But when the 31-year-old Sikeston mother found Binky Patrol, an organization that makes blankets for children, she decided to start a local chapter.
"I thought it was a really good idea -- and it was something simple," McWaters said. "You don't have to have a lot of skill to create 'binkies.'"
A national nonprofit organization, Binky Patrol makes and gives handmade blankets to babies born HIV-positive or drug-addicted and children ages 18 and under who are abused, in shelters or foster care.
McWaters said the idea to start a Binky Patrol chapter -- which is the only in Missouri -- came about while surfing the Internet.
"I just got into sewing last year, and there was a Web site my mother told me to go to because it had different craft patterns, and there was a link to charity craft paths," McWaters said.
It was through the charity links McWaters found Binky Patrol. Founded by Laguna Beach, Calif., resident Susan Finch in 1996, the Patrol has delivered over 175,000 blankets since beginning.
"Sewing has become a stress reliever for me," said McWaters, who is also a stay-at-home mother of a 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son and an Avon sales consultant.
Blankets don't have to be a certain type either. As long as it's handmade and soft, they will be accepted, McWaters said. They can be crocheted, quilted and knitted and anything up to twin size will be accepted, she said.
"If somebody's getting started, and they have a blanket and think nobody would want this, there's somebody who would want it," McWaters said.
McWaters said the Patrol isn't looking for perfect blankets.
"I hope people realize I'm not looking for glorious, prize-winning blankets -- but if they want to donate one, that's fine," McWaters said.
Before she received the OK from Patrol headquarters to start the group, McWaters said she already had interest from the community from individuals and quilting groups.
"It's a hobby people are doing anyway, and now they know it will go to a child who needs it," McWaters said.
Locally, the SEMO "Blanketeers" plans to deliver to area shelters, hospitals and area residents. McWaters said she would like to give blankets to local police officers to give to children in emergencies.
"There are children in foster care that go from house to house and don't have anything permanent or any grounding," McWaters said. "Well, this blanket is theirs. Nobody can take it from them."
Each blanket will contain a label stating it's been donated by Binky Patrol.
The process to start the chapter was fairly easy, McWaters said. She just filled out a questionnaire and received a packet of information including a handbook about nonprofit organization regulations.
SEMO Binky Patrol will hold monthly meetings once a place to have them is donated, McWaters said. The purpose of the meetings is so volunteers can come by and pick up materials so they won't have pay the expenses on their own.
"We are just getting started so I'm looking for volunteers, or 'Blanketeers' as we call them. We are also looking for donations of fabric, yarn, batting and of course if someone wants to donate money for the purchase of these items that would be great too," McWaters said, adding donations are tax-
The chapter's goal is to become self-sufficient so headquarters, which will supply materials to chapters, won't have to help, McWaters said.
And the extra work it takes to run the chapter doesn't compare to the benefits it will provide, McWaters said.
"I have two children, and I love them dearly," McWaters said. "They get hugs and kisses from me every day, but there are children out there who don't have that. At least when they wrap themselves in these blankets, it's like I'm giving them the hugs."
For more information, contact McWaters at (573) 667-9955 or visit www.binkypatrol.org.