Sharing the Weight is a non-profit group based in Ottumwa, Iowa. The group’s organizer, Marci Prose, works with volunteers to create and distribute, for a small cost to help with shipping, weighted blankets for children with special needs. These blankets, which are stuffed with poly pellets, are typically valued at a cost of $100 - $450.
To date, Sharing the Weight has made and distributed over 2,000 blankets, an approximate $500,000 value, to families in need in all 50 states and 5 foreign countries. While the group meets regularly to create the blankets, there are over 4,000 on the waiting list.
Prose organized Sharing the Weight when her son, David, was informally diagnosed Autistic in 2013 (the family has since received an official diagnosis). While working with the AEA, David was given a weighted blanket to aid in sleeping. The first night, and nearly every subsequent night, David has slept through the night - something that had never happened in his entire 2 ½ years of life.
On David's third birthday, Marci wanted to make three blankets to donate back to the local AEA in order to show the family’s appreciation. At that first blanket-making party, enough material and weighted pellets were donated to make twelve blankets. Marci’s plans evolved at that point to make blankets until they ran out of donated supplies. She never anticipated what was to follow.
A grassroots movement began and the group has seen hundreds of yards of fabric and nearly 4,000 lbs of weighted pellets assembled to create the special blankets - all items and funds used to make and ship the blankets continue to be donated by the caring people and local businesses of Iowa.
Kerry Riley, a parent who received three of these weighted blankets, shares the life-changing effects her family experienced:
"My family received three blankets. My 7-year-old now sleeps through the night and stays in his bed. My 14-year-old has stopped getting up in the middle of the night to hoard food and talks much less in his sleep. He has reported the blanket makes him feel safe. My 16-year-old son loves his. If he wants to lay on the couch...the blanket goes with him. Life changing for my family! I also grab the blankets at the first sign of a meltdown. They really make a difference."
Recently, Marci and her husband Adam were finalists for ECI Software's Everyday Hero Award, an award recocongising people from all over the United States. Marci and Adam were also recipients of the Spirit of the Community award, an honor bestowed by Community First Credit Union and KYOU-TV Fox 15. In addition, Marci has received the Social Venture of the Year award from her alma-mater, Indian Hills Community College.
Sharing the Weight is always appreciative of volunteers and donations for their blanket-making endeavors. Items needed include washable fabric, monetary donations (checks can be made payable to Sharing The Weight) and sewing supplies.