Source: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems announcement

ELYRIA, Ohio –Searching for a safe activity through which employees could give back to the community might have been difficult during a pandemic, but Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (Bendix) found a powerful solution in 2021. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Fleece & Thank You, a Farmington Hills, Michigan-based community service organization, to make and deliver handmade fleece blankets to hospitalized children.

The virtual blanket-making event took place in February, when employees from multiple Bendix locations made 184 hand-tied fleece blankets from the comfort of their own homes. The majority of the handmade blankets were shipped back to Bendix’s Elyria headquarters at the end of the month, and the blankets were delivered to the Cleveland Clinic in March, for distribution by its Child Life team to hospitalized children.

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“What’s unique about Fleece & Thank You is that their efforts are all about connecting recipients with volunteers through an expression of thanks,” said Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “Ultimately this was a big reason for the project’s success. Employees across locations also had the opportunity to connect by taking part in a new service activity, together.”

Every blanket Fleece & Thank You provides includes a personal video message attached to it from the blanket-maker to the hospitalized recipient, who can then send a thank-you message back to the maker.

A Cherished Activity, Re-Imagined

Making blankets for children is not new for Bendix Elyria employees: The headquarters has hosted on-site blanket-making events for more than seven years, Gutierrez said, donating the blankets to a local children’s home. But since March 2020, when the pandemic first prompted Bendix employees to work from home, communal volunteering activities across Bendix locations have been largely nonexistent.

“We knew we couldn’t house our on-site event this year,” Gutierrez said. “We decided to research organizations that could help us host this event in a virtual manner – and that’s how we came across Fleece & Thank You. This organization caught our attention because they provided the materials, an opportunity for our people to volunteer from home, and a real connection to the beneficiaries: the people and organization that would receive the blankets. We always strive to have our volunteers see and feel the impact of their work, and this was perfect.”

What’s more, Gutierrez said partnering with Fleece & Thank You allowed Bendix to open up this cherished project to employees at other Bendix locations for the first time. The event was kicked off throughout the organization in mid-February. Employees had the option of returning the blankets to the Elyria office for delivery to the Cleveland Clinic, or shipping them back to Fleece & Thank You to benefit a local Michigan hospital. Some 53 employees from Bendix locations in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas participated in the virtual project.

To view the entire announcement, click HERE.