Michigan-based nonprofit Fleece and Thank You sending blankets, video messages to kids in hospitals

As a teenager in the hospital, Hannah Thomas has seen many family and friends come through to wish her well. But it was a wish from a perfect stranger and a blanket that made the world of difference. 

"When I received my blanket, I was actually I think three or four days out of my brain surgery so I hadn't even opened my eyes yet. I was just in this immense pain, I was still in the ICU and everything. My dad actually was the one who came up to me and said, 'Hannah, someone brought you a blanket.'"

Fleece and Thank You is a Michigan-based nonprofit that gives blankets and encouragement to kids in the hospital. Hannah was 16 years old at the time remembers what it was like to get one. 

"Me and him just started crying because it filled me with so much joy and comfort that there was someone out there who cared about me and was rooting for me to do great and supporting me and I didn't even know them," she said. 

At the time, she still had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation so the gesture was very meaningful. She's still kept the blanket. 

"I actually have two because Nick, the founder, his sister actually gave me one too when I started chemo because she was actually one of my nurses," she said. 

"One of the biggest parts of a Fleece and Thank You blanket is that every single blanket has a special patch on it. That patch carries a video message from the blanket maker to the recipient in the hospital, then [the recipient] can send a video message back to [the maker.] And that piece of connection is so important for a child facing hospital treatments and the isolation of the hospital," said Nicholas Kristock.

He saw another hole that he could fill to help certain kids feel every more encouraged and less alone while in the hospital. 

"What we realized was there are kids in Michigan hospitals, English isn't their first language. And so we partnered with Global Interpreting Services to actually be able to offer translated blanket videos. And so these are in 25 different languages,"

Hannah is also now giving back to the nonprofit. She's raised $25,000 for Fleece and Thank You.

"I felt like I got to give them that joy and comfort that warmed my heart so much," she said. 

Each year, the organization delivers some 30,000 blankets to children around the country. It's just one special moment in which the kids know someone who's a perfect stranger is thinking of them.