Fleece & Thank You is a Michigan-based nonprofit organization with the mission to provide comfort, inspiration and hope to children receiving inpatient hospital treatments by producing and donating handmade blankets. Its blankets are handmade by volunteers across the U.S. and are delivered to pediatric patients at hospitals throughout Michigan and Ohio.
With the substantial goal of making 30,000 blankets per year, Fleece & Thank You was struggling to keep up with the laundry process. When the pandemic began, Fleece & Thank You quickly acquired a hospital-grade washing and drying unit to be able to continue delivering comfort to children in the hospital. As the demand for these blankets increased, its single washing and drying unit was unable to sustain the demand. The Fleece & Thank You team then began searching for healthcare linen providers and discovered ImageFIRST Healthcare Laundry Specialists.
“After connecting with their team, ImageFIRST was eager to jump in. We were blown away by their response,” said Nicholas Kristock, founder of Fleece & Thank You. “Bringing ImageFIRST into our story to scale our washing and drying process has been critical in helping us continue to supply consistent comfort to kiddos in the hospital. This partnership will result in thousands of more kids receiving comfort during their hospital stay.”
ImageFIRST’s Livonia, Michigan location, located near Fleece & Thank You’s Farmington Hills, Mich. warehouse, was ready to help, with its 49-million-pound processing capacity and nearly 110 associates. As a laundry provider that specializes in laundering linen for the healthcare industry, the commercial laundry plant is HLAC-accredited, meaning that its processes meet or exceed industry standards for safety in the medical industry.
“When Nich reached out to us for some support for his initiative, we were incredibly touched by the cause,” said Paul Stahly, general manager of the ImageFIRST Livonia plant. “As healthcare laundry experts, we understand the importance of ensuring patients have clean and safe linen and, with that, we are looking forward to supporting the Fleece & Thank You team and mission in any way that we can.”
Upon washing them in a hospital-grade disinfecting detergent and wash process, the blankets are plastic-wrapped to ensure they are just as clean when they leave the facility as when they land in the patient’s hands. After cleaning, they are delivered to the Fleece & Thank You warehouse to be distributed to children’s hospitals in the region.
While this relationship is just beginning, Fleece & Thank You has already been making a significant impact on patients across Michigan. Many patients who receive a handmade blanket are comforted and put at ease during a difficult time.
“My son Wyatt received a Fleece & Thank You blanket when he was fighting for his life at six-weeks-old last October,” said Nichole, a mother to a patient who received a donated blanket. “His stay was unexpected and he couldn’t wear clothes while on the ventilator, so this blanket kept him snuggly warm when I couldn’t. Thank you for taking the time to make this. Small acts like this mean a great deal when you least expect it.”
ImageFIRST is set to receive the next load of blankets to be processed in the coming days, following a schedule of exchanging ready-to-wash and washed blankets every two weeks. Since beginning this partnership, an additional ImageFIRST location near Indianapolis has also began providing laundry services to support Fleece & Thank You’s mission.