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Volunteers Crochet and Knit Shawls and Blankets to Show Love and Support for NJ Organ and Tissue Donor Families

National Volunteer Week was an opportunity to thank all volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to help others. Locally, dozens of volunteers from throughout New Jersey recently crocheted and knitted over 900 shawls and blankets to express love and support for families of deceased organ and tissue donors. Their caring efforts are part of NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program.

A team of volunteers came together at NJ Sharing Network’s headquarters in New Providence to package the donations and add personalized messages of support before distributing to organ and tissue donor families. Pictured at the ‘packaging meeting’ are local volunteers Adlinna Liang; Marilyn Esnes; Divya Tellakula; Grace Wamsteker; Janet Vigeland; Arlene Kaplan; Lisa Colasurdo, Coordinator for NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program; Janet Crowe; Noreen Reilly; Dede Duffy; Nancy Michael; Cathy Rooney; and Carol Kessler.

Marilyn Esnes of Berkeley Heights is a NJ Sharing Network Wrapped in Love volunteer who understands the positive impact a handmade shawl or blanket can bring to donor families.

“As the caregiver of a lung transplant recipient, my husband, I understand the difficult decision a loved one must make to give the gift of life to others,” said Esnes. “At the time I was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital for my husband’s life-saving transplant, I kept thinking of my husband and praying for the medical staff but also for the donor family. While I was very worried and scared, I thought of the family who made that decision to donate organs and what they were going through. My heart ached for them and what they must have been going through. I was so appreciative of their generosity and love. When I learned of NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program, I volunteered right away to help alleviate someone’s pain.”

Carolyn Welsh, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NJ Sharing Network, is inspired by the overwhelming expressions of support of NJ Sharing Network’s volunteers.

“We applaud the compassionate efforts of our Wrapped in Love volunteers who selflessly offer their time and talent to support donor families,” said Welsh. “Our volunteers continue to provide comfort to families after suffering the loss of a loved one when it is needed most.”

NJ Sharing Network received the following messages from local families of deceased organ donors who received Wrapped in Love shawls and blankets:

Thank you for the beautifully handmade wrap that was crafted for me. It is a precious reminder of the gift of life that my son was able to give. We miss him dearly but find comfort in knowing that his gift lives on in others. We do appreciate your kindness.”

“Dropping a note to thank you for the beautiful handmade shawl. My husband passed away two years ago and every day I think of him as it was so unexpected. I was glad he was able to give the gift of sight to two people. My shawl will give me peace and comfort when I am wrapped in love. It was so very thoughtful of your organization.”

“Thank you for the beautifully crocheted lap blanket sent to me in honor of my husband’s ultimate generosity upon his death. He was an amazing man that I was blessed to share my life with, he loved everyone, and his heart overflowed. God bless you all.”

For more information about NJ Sharing Network’s Wrapped in Love Program, please call 908-516-5687 or email lcolasurdo@njsharingnetwork.org.

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