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State Honoree

Jami Harper

Nebraska

Jami Harper, 12, of Grand Island, Neb., a seventh-grader at Westridge Middle School, crochets afghan blankets for children at her community Crisis Center. After learning that children in life-threatening situations often leave their homes with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing, Jami decided to help by making a new afghan for each child. “The kids’ whole world may have fallen apart,” she said, “but getting something special like a handmade afghan to cuddle may help them feel a little less scared.” Jami realized that she couldn’t provide 10 afghans per month (the amount needed) without help, so she advertised “Afghans for Kids” through public service announcements, letters, phone calls and visits to 4-H clubs, churches and community groups. She organized groups at both her school and church to make blankets, and enlisted the help of local senior citizens. In addition, she taught summer crocheting classes through the University of Nebraska Extension program. To date, more than $3,000 worth of blankets have been given to the children at the Crisis Center. Jami believes that “Afghans for Kids” is important because it shows children in crisis that people care. “They’ll have a blanket to keep them warm on the outside,” she said. “Knowing that someone cares will help keep them warm on the inside.”