The story of Sharing The Weight began a little over two years ago when Adam and Marci Proes’s third child, David, was born. David had trouble sleeping and on most nights only slept for fifteen minutes at a time. On a good night David might sleep for an hour. “We knew something was different but we figured it was because of the other health issues David had,” explains Marci.
After two years of constant screaming and little to no sleep Adam and Marci finally reached the point where they were in need of answers. “Our pediatrician referred us to the AEA where David started receiving therapy. Six months into therapy David’s screaming was reduced but he still wasn’t sleeping,” said Marci. The Proes’s occupational therapist gave them a weighted blanket to try and the first night David slept through the night for the first time ever.
Marci called the blanket the “miracle blanket” and wanted to purchase one for David. As she looked online she discovered that the size blanket David needed was $100. Unable to afford to purchase a blanket for David right away, Marci’s mother took matters into her own hands and learned how to make a weighted blanket for David.
Shortly before his third birthday David was diagnosed with autism. “It was a hard thing for me to go through,” said Marci. “There were so many questions left unanswered but one thing we knew was that life was going to be hard for our child, for our family and for us. I started grieving for everything David was going to lose, for everything our other children were going to lose, and for how hard life was going to be for all of us.”
Instead of wallowing in her grief Marci decided to set her mind to helping other families that had children who had autism and other special needs. With the goal to give the AEA three blankets in honor of David’s third birthday, Marci asked her mother to teach her how to make a weighted blanket. In the first weekend Marci and her mom made twelve blankets. With her mission to help families and children with special needs in motion, Marci and her mother decided that they would continue making blankets until they ran out of supplies. That was June of 2013 and they still haven’t run out of supplies yet. “God has blessed our giving many times over; we started sending out blankets in December of 2013 to neighboring states, and to date we have made 530 blankets.”
Sharing the Weight has given blankets out all across Iowa and has sent blankets to 44 different states and 4 other countries. “We now have 3,000 families on the waiting list to receive a blanket. We try to make the blankets as fast as we can, and we have many wonderful volunteer groups, like the group at Good Shepherd in Bloomfield, who help. We appreciate any donations of time because these blankets make a world of difference to children with special needs and their families,” said Marci.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church became connected with Sharing The Weight when another church in their community, Grace Point Church of the Nazarene, invited members of Good Shepherd to join them for a blanket making party. What grew from that event was an idea to get more people from the community involved by hosting monthly blanket making parties at different congregations each month. “So far we have three churches in Bloomfield hosting a blanket making party, Grace Point Church of the Nazarene, Bloomfield United Methodist and Good Shepherd Lutheran,” explained Debbie Rasmussen a member of Good Shepherd. “In February Good Shepherd hosted the blanket making party and we had a wonderful turn out. There were twenty-three ladies from at least nine different churches and ended up opening up the sanctuary to give us a bit more space.”
Sharing the Weight is a ministry that Good Shepherd will continue to help and support by hosting blanket making parties. “Sharing The Weight is helping family’s all over the United States and abroad find comfort and Good Shepherd will continue to help support Marci and Sharing The Weight. Occasionally Marci posts on Facebook thank you notes from people that have received a blanket. Once day I saw a picture from one of the southern states of a blanket I had made laying with a child that was sound asleep, it gave me such a good feeling inside to know that I had been a part in blessing that family with some well needed rest,” concluded Debbie.
For more information on Sharing The Weight and if you’d like to donate, visit http://www.sharingtheweight.org/
If they would like to host a blanket making party they can contact Marci Proes at [email protected]