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VALPARAISO — Ayden Cleaves methodically cut the edges of a paw print-themed swath of fleece material. Then she tied knots on the ends and around the edges.

The blankets Cleaves, a general education student at Ivy Tech Community College's Valparaiso campus, made Wednesday morning were headed to lend comfort to puppies or kittens housed at Lakeshore Paws animal rescue.

"I heard about the project and thought it was interesting," Cleaves, of Chesterton, said. "I'm a craft person, and I love animals."

The activity was part of the statewide Days of Service initiative. Students in Valparaiso spent two mornings making blankets. Blankets were also being made by students at the Michigan City campus. Students on the Gary campus spent their time this week sorting and packaging food for the Northwest Indiana Food Bank.

"Days of Service is a statewide initiative through the Office of Student Life, where we select one week to hold a variety of volunteer opportunities for students of Ivy Tech," said April Gabbert, associate director of student life at the Valparaiso campus.

"While we sponsor several service engagement and community service outreach projects throughout the year at each of our campuses and locations, this is the one week a year we all come together in service to our college, local, national and even international communities."

Dennis Mayberry, a student life assistant and a computer information technology and business administration major, said students also made blessing or buddy blankets last year — but for a military organization. The goal was to make 40 blankets in two days at the Valparaiso campus and another 40 at the Michigan City campus.

"I like animals a lot and they all need comfort and blankets are one way to provide comfort to them," said Hevyn Frailey, of Valparaiso, a general education major.

"In the past, the Northwest Region has made over 20,000 meals to serve local families, volunteered at food pantries and local shelters, helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity, worked with the Boys and Girls Club, make blessing blankets and kits for homeless veterans," Gabbert said.


Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.