Dzantik'i Heeni students make blankets for Juneau's shelters

Regular community service projects organized by middle school teacher
Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School science and math teacher Bobbie Jones delivers blankets to AWARE Executive Director Saralyn Tabachnick at the women's shelter on Friday. The blankets were paid for and put together by Jones' seventh and eighth grade students.

Bobby Jones teaches math and science at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, but students in his class can always expect to get an education beyond that from him.

Jones, who has taught at Dzantik’i Heeni for 15 years now, said Friday — by way of detailing his class’ latest project, handmade fleece-tie blankets to be donated to shelters in Juneau — that he has been getting his students involved in volunteerism and community service for years.

“My classrooms have always done community service projects each year,” Jones said.

While initially, Jones would organize annual projects, he said his students’ zeal pushed him toward organizing a successive string of activities.

“I found the more we did, the more kids were interested in doing more and more and more,” Jones explained. “It just kind of feeds off itself.”

The blanket project arose from a discussion Jones had with his students about what they could do to contribute this month.

“We were thinking of different things we could do to help out the community, and it just so happened we started this cold streak,” said Jones, referring to the recent chilly turn in the weather.

A few students, Jones continued, pitched the idea of doing a jacket drive. That conversation eventually snowballed, and after another student suggested the fleece-tie blankets, the project was adopted. Jones said the kids raised money to buy the material from Jo-Ann Fabric themselves.

Jay Lloyd, a language arts and social studies teacher at the school whose class participated as well, wrote in an email, “An influencing factor in our decision was that some of our own students are in situations where an extra blanket is greatly appreciated. Students had the choice to keep their blankets or donate them. The vast majority donated them but a few kept theirs.”

Over the course of three days, Jones said, 55 seventh- and eighth-graders used lunch time or their “toolbox” period, a free time for Dzantik’i Heeni students to read or study, to tie up 26 blankets.

Blankets are being donated to shelters run by Aiding Women In Abuse and Rape Emergencies Inc. and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

AWARE received 10 blankets Friday afternoon, with more expected to be delivered Monday, according to Jones.

“So we have 12 to drop off at St. Vincent de Paul, and another batch to drop off here at the AWARE shelter,” said Jones while delivering the blankets at AWARE Friday. “There’s a few more to go, and some of the kids took theirs home to finish them up over the weekend.”

All told, Jones said, he estimated about 35 blankets would be made.

Executive Director Saralyn Tabachnick received the donation warmly.

“We love the community support, and we love that children and youth … (are) taking ownership in the community and looking out for others in the community,” said Tabachnick before the blankets were dropped off. “It’s wonderful modeling and wonderful citizenship.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at


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