In April, Shelly Pollock and Gene Banducci made BlankieGram.com open to the public. The website is the culmination of Pollock’s longtime dream to produce and sell her Healing Thoughts Blankets, a product made to comfort those suffering from illness or injury.
“As a person who believes in real positive affirmations, instead of sending flowers and cards I wanted to wrap somebody in good positive thoughts. … Everybody needs a hug,” Pollock said.
Pollock, who is also the owner of NW Insurance and Financial in Long Beach, was inspired to create the blankets after enduring her own battle with sickness. She recalled this time in her life as one troubled by loneliness, waiting for phone calls that never came.
“When you face a health crisis, a lot of people don’t know what to say,” Pollock said. During this time, she said, she found that the best way to communicate care to people struggling with illness or injury was through the simple comfort of a hug.
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Pollock’s dream to make and sell the blankets became a reality after she mentioned the idea to her friend and previous co-worker, Banducci, who was eager to partner with her in carrying out the vision.
She later discovered that Banducci’s immediate enthusiasm toward the blankets was partially due to his own medical history. A year prior to their conversation, he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer, resulting in the loss of one of his kidneys.
“If you talk to somebody who is facing an illness, has a loved one who is, or is at all facing it, they get it in an instant,” Pollock said.
These turquoise blankets are $30 each and can be purchased at BlankieGram.com. They are made of soft polyester and covered in positive phrases. For each blanket purchased, another is donated to a person in need. Pollock and Banducci are continually looking for advocates and organizations that are willing to accept the blanket donations and get them into the hands of people who need them.
The Crisis Network, which works with the homeless and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is one of the agencies that BlankieGram.com donates to.
“I really saw her vision and our agency saw the vision, she gave us quite a few and it has been greatly received,” said Rachel Stanton an advocate at the Crisis Network in Long Beach.
“It is not easy to find organizations to gift to,” Pollock said, “we are looking for people in the organizations that can take a supply of blankies and make sure they are distributed in a meaningful way.”
The partners have high hopes for their website and product to grow. Pollock said that her plan is to give away 100 blankets a day in the next three years.
“Every morning I wake up and think ‘Where can I give blankies?’ What a great position to be in,” Pollock said.