At-home volunteering: Make “no-sew” blankets for kids in foster care


Families Giving Back creates in-person volunteering events as well as at-home projects for families with kids of all ages. These events and projects — in conjunction with nonprofits across the Valley — offer opportunities that can fit any family’s busy schedule.

This month, we’re spotlighting our partnership with Southwest Human Development.

The first 2,000 days of a child’s life — between birth and kindergarten — are critical to their development, health and well-being. Southwest Human Development takes this statistic seriously, serving more than 135,000 children and their families each year.

In more than three decades, this Valley nonprofit has grown from six staff members and a single Head Start program to more than 850 employees and 40 programs and services focusing on child development and mental health, Easter Seals disability services, early literacy and Head Start, child welfare and professional education and training.

Families Giving Back and Southwest Human Development are currently looking for volunteers of all ages to help put together “no-sew” blankets for children in need. This is a fun, creative and worthwhile project the entire family can be a part of from start to finish. It also is a good project for groups, such as the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, sports teams, church or school groups — even play dates.

“The blankets are used in five different programs — the main one being the Kinship Care and Adoption program,” said Annette Sutfin, program manager at Southwest Human Development. “This program is one that works hard to place children into good homes, which can be a particularly scary time for any child. For children being taken out of their homes, these blankets are especially important to them, because they represent something they can call their own. It also helps to build good relationships between the children and our workers.”

The no-sew blanket project is a priority because there are more than 17,000 Arizona children currently in foster care. It’s an impactful program that has helped countless children.

“We started this program as a blanket-a-thon event in January of 2016 with Families Giving Back, but it has transformed into an ongoing project where we receive blankets on a monthly basis,” Sutfin said. “It is amazing to see how quickly these blankets go once they come into our facility, and it is an effortless way to get necessary things into the hands of our kids.”

At-home volunteering: Make no-sew blankets for foster kids

Your family can purchase the materials to make the blankets at home. After you’ve selected fun and colorful fleece patterns (two 1.5-yard pieces) from the fabric store, follow these simple instructions:

• Put the two pieces of fabric on top of each other so that the sides you want to be seen are on the outside. Trim your pieces to square uneven edges if necessary.

• Cut a 4-inch square from each corner and discard.

• Go around your blanket and cut strips 4-inches deep, every inch or so. A craft mat is helpful with this step but not a necessity.

• Tie the strips together in a double knot to complete your blanket. You can find several alternative knot-tying methods for no-sew blankets on YouTube.

• If desired, roll up the blanket and tie a ribbon around it. You also cam make a small card or tag or print tags from our template at

• Take the blankets to Southwest Human Development, 2850 N. 24th St., Phoenix, during normal business hours. Be sure to let them know you’re a Families Giving Back volunteer!