UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- A group of Union County school children have decided they’re not too young to make a difference for hurricane victims -- led by a young girl who knows what it’s like to be a victim herself.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon - perfect for playing outdoors - they headed to 11-year-old Anna Jacobsen’s house near Waxhaw to make blankets for people who have lost everything to Hurricane Sandy.
“We just wanted to give some hope for other people, and make blankets with close friends,” said Anna, as she and more than a dozen of her friends cut, tied, and giggled their way through their projects.
She came up with the idea after seeing the devastation on TV.
“Oh my God, I just couldn't put thoughts into words,” she said of what she saw. “It was hard to see what they were going through because I knew what they were going through.”
She knew because two years ago, her family lost everything when their house in Concord burned down. She, her parents, and her three younger brothers and sisters got out with just their pajamas on.
It all came back as she watched the suffering on TV.
"I thought of all the kids who were losing precious items that they've had forever,” she said, “and I just wanted to help in every way I can."
Anna’s mom was collecting stuffed animals, but she didn’t have any to give – so they brainstormed for another project. Anna remembered the blankets her cousin had sent her when they had nothing else.
Warm. Fuzzy. Comforting. The perfect gift for someone with nothing, who needs something to hold onto.
The rest was a matter of spreading the word to find people who could help them make it happen. They communicated through Facebook and friends at school – and ended up with a houseful of kids on a Sunday afternoon.
Ashley Cruz has family in New York and New Jersey, and wanted to help.
“We would just be watching the news anyway, so why not just help instead of just watch?” she said.
Sue Patrao, a parent, couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
“I walked in and there were kids all over the floor -- young, old, boys, girls -- lots of beautiful colored blankets,” she said. “It was heartwarming. It really made me want to cry.”
The blankets will go to a high school counselor in Staten Island that they found in a news story online, who was driving around helping deliver supplies to those in need. The woman has already sent the children a thank-you note.
“I have tears in my eyes right now,” wrote Katie Goodheart. “I am so touched that you and your family and your kids’ friends care so much about us here in Staten Island. There are no words to express what this means to this community.”
Sunday, Goodheart wrote to NBC Charlotte that she had spent the day helping neighbors clear debris from their homes. She was touched that the blanket project was almost complete and on its way.
"I am so touched by their efforts I am at a loss for words,” she wrote. “It may seem like a small gesture to the girls, but to people up here it means so much more. It is helping me and others stay motivated, encouraged, and inspired to keep our spirits high.”
Patrao echoed the thought. “This is a new generation coming forward, and to have them participate and do things to help out as well, is really wonderful,” she said.
Anna just seemed to enjoy spending the day with her friends, doing a “warm and fuzzy” deed for strangers.
“We're all just having a good time,” she said softly, “and just.. Heaven.”