Love Letters to the World

3, 4, 5

Giving homemade blankets to help people who are homeless or young people in the hospital is a form of philanthropy (giving treasure). What is the best way to donate? Using a decision-making model, the young people compare blanket projects and determine whether they have the time, talent, and treasure to help fill a need. They determine what their opportunity cost will be to participate in the project. Finally they will vote for the project of their choice.

— Bob Keeshan, also known as Captain Kangaroo, said, "ABC Quilts are love letters to the world."

PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Session

The learner will:

  • compare blanket projects and make and explain a personal choice.
  • identify opportunity cost in personal decision making.

Decision Making Model (see handout)

Teacher Preparation 
  • Investigate existing blanket project guidelines like Project Linus or blanket packs for people who are homeless
  • contact local hospitals (include youth psych hospitals) to inquire about guidelines for blankets for youth
  • Projects may include no-sew fleece blankets, gathering gently used blankets, or sewing quilts from used clothing.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Brainstorm words associated with blanket. This may bring to mind words like warmth, comfort, protection, love. 

  2. Talk about the situations in which a blanket would be a good gift for someone who is homeless or lonely or ill to remind them they are cared for. For example, children with serious illness that stay overnight at the hospital (including a psych hospital) may be given a donated blanket. Or, a person sleeping on the street may be given a sleeping bag with a sack lunch or toiletries wrapped in it. 

    Discuss thoughts and prior knowledge about giving blankets. Use a decision-making model to decide whether they want to do a blanket project together. 

  3. There are different ways to make blankets (look them up online): piecing scraps into quilts, using fleece, or using a gently used blanket to sew a sleeping bag. Discuss whether they have the time, talent, and materials to make several blankets as a group. Discuss:

    • What materials are needed?
    • What is the need in the community?
    • What skills do they need to learn?
    • Who can give them some guidance? 
  4. Preview the handout "decision-making model" as a guide to decide whether to do this and which blanket project they choose to do as a group. 

  5. Part of the decision process is understanding opportunity cost. This refers to "the next best alternative that must be given up when a choice is made." For example, if I choose cereal for breakfast, my next best alternative I give up is eggs. Explain that it does not refer to every alternative - just the next best choice (opportunity). Practice this concept by having the young people decide what opportunity costs are to the every day decisions they make.

    What is the opportunity cost when I choose (use examples meaningful to your students) ...

    • to do homework (give up time playing a game)
    • to watch TV (give up going for a walk)
  6. On a board or in small groups use the Decision Making Model (handout below) to compare three projects (e.g., donate to local hospirtal, Project Linus, and a blanket pack for people who are homeless). This model helps us make a thoughtful choice based on facts and resources. They will determine the opportunity cost for participating in each (e.g., giving up free time, donating a piece of clothing). Refer to the blanket project websites and call the local hospital so young people have all the facts. 

  7. After completing the decision-making model, participants vote for the project of their choice.

  8. Note: If they are making a quilt with used clothing, each person will contribute discarded clothing (preferably 100% woven cotton) to cut up and use in the quilt. They may write an email explaining the project and requesting people in their networks donate old clothing.

    Optional: This is a chance to teach parts of a friendly letter. The letter should have the date, a greeting, at least two complete sentences explaining the project, one complete sentence asking permission to bring an item of clothing, a closing, and the signature.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.