V is for Valentine and Volunteer

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our volunteers and our blanket recipients, and to you, dear reader. Whether you’re flying solo or you have a plus one, we want to spread the love today.

This is the story of a lovely friendship between two couples that began nearly 20 years ago. This also happens to coincide with our organization’s 20th birthday! I’ll let our volunteer, Tom Groebe, start the story (which includes our President, Letty Fowell).

“My wife Katie and I met Letty and Bill about 6 months after moving to AZ, and just a short time after our first daughter and their first granddaughter were born. We each were physically distanced from our respective families so I think we all helped fill a little bit of a void. At our initial meeting, Letty offered to babysit our newborn and within a few weeks, my wife and I were off on our first date as parents and our relationship with Bill and Letty grew from there. Hard to believe that was nearly 20 years ago!”

In those years Tom and Katie grew their family to three children, while Bill and Letty’s grandkid count grew to eight. Here are the Groebes from our recent Winter 2020. From left: Jameson, Katie, Sevilla, Penny, and Tom.

If you’re a long-standing volunteer of AZB4K, you might think this family looks familiar. We were first introduced to the family when they attended our 100k Blanket Celebration in 2016. Here’s the family with Letty, holding Sevilla’s blanket.


The family had been in a car accident several years prior, and the kids received our blankets when they were taken to the hospital. They spoke about the feelings of “home” when they saw the blankets on the hospital beds. It provided comfort to both the parents and the children. Tom also shared these photos of Sevilla and Jameson, from their time in the hospital, after receiving their blankets.

I began this article referring to Tom as a volunteer. Although we have several men who are active in the blanket-making process, Tom volunteers in another way that benefits our organization. As a Wells Fargo employee, Tom has a benefit that grants him paid volunteer time that can result in a cash donation as well. He explains, “with Wells Fargo, they encourage community involvement and their big drive usually occurs in September of each year. I have always carried about 100 to 200 hours of community service each year and Wells Fargo now allows us to convert our volunteer efforts into cash donations to our favorite charities. I have been able to spread the wealth, so to speak, by contributing to the 10 or 12 charities which I have been actively working. This year, I decided to make more of an effort to direct time and money to AZ Blankets 4 Kids. What a great and worthy effort you guys make, and it is really a wonderful blessing for the kids. AZ Blankets 4 Kids is already set up in our database so any Wells Fargo employee who chooses to make donations can look them up in the Volunteers website in Teamworks (our internal site). We are able to log hours which we work on behalf of the charity and we are able to make donations of our own money and also direct corporate monies when we have earned them. In my case this year, I was able to log some volunteer time, make donations directly to and also direct some corporate funds to AZ Blankets 4 Kids. Other large companies (State Farm, Intel, Honeywell, Chase, etc.) do similar volunteerism and they may have similar means to donate volunteer time and/or money.”

What a great way to spread the love! If you love AZB4K and happen to have an employer with similar programs supporting volunteerism and charitable giving, please consider designating AZ Blankets 4 Kids as a recipient. We are registered and approved with Network for Good, which is a company that many employers use to funnel donations to chosen charities.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the Groebe family and their extended family in Bill and Letty Fowell. Let’s do another update in 20 years!

With Love,
AZ Blankets 4 Kids

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.