For children in foster care, finding a sense of belonging and pride can often feel impossible.
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That’s why one military family is working to bring a feeling of comfort through layers of fabric with a special meaning.
“Just the uniform alone gives them a sense of courage or resiliency, which is amazing,” said SSG Ulisses Bautista as he cut the stitching of a uniform.
He currently serves in the U.S. Army and his family runs the non-profit The Bautista Project Inc. and works to help people experiencing homelessness.
One of his favorite times for outreach is leading up to Christmas when the Belonging Blanket Project comes to life.
Old uniforms are transformed into blankets and matching pillows and given to children in foster care and group homes.
“We’re hoping to get at least 30 blankets this year, we’re really going to do it big,” said Marla Bautista.
The project started small with just the family as they moved from duty station to duty station.
Now, they’ve got a whole team and they’re working alongside Caliber Home Loans to expand.
Just like the uniforms, everyone helping has a story.
“My husband served for ten years, he was a combat engineer and throughout his service, I was always trying to serve the community in some way,” said volunteer Hope Griffin.
“You can tell it has a lot of love, we use all of it. We have a little bit of wear and tear over here,” said Cheryl Calloway.
Calloway served in the Air Force and her husband served in the Army, and her son is currently serving in the Marine Corps.
She loves seeing these uniforms come back to life with another purpose.
“Not being perfect makes it perfect. We include all the flaws, it makes it human,” Calloway said.
The team meets just about every week and are looking for move volunteers, in person or at home.
“We’re making Belonging Blanket kits to go to our friends who sew at home that can’t make it out to our sewing circles,” said Marla.
You don’t need a ton of sewing experience, just a love of giving back.
“The outcome, just seeing the smiles on the kids faces when they receive something that makes them feel belonged, especially giving them something that shows that somebody cares,” said SSG Ulisses Bautista.
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