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Published on December 22, 2017

Miss SD Teen USA delivering baby blankets at Avera Children's Hospital

Blankets Wrap Kids in Kindness and Comfort

Shania Knutson is Miss South Dakota Teen USA, but that had nothing to do with her recent visit to Avera Children’s Hospital before Christmas.

Knutson, a junior at Viborg-Hurley High School, had an idea. Why not raise a little money, use it to buy material and then host a party to make blankets? And once they were done? Take them to kids who are in the hospital.

Her mother, Alicia Knutson, said the generous effort was all Shania’s idea.

“She did it out of the kindness of her heart – it wasn’t anything that went with her role as Miss South Dakota Teen USA or for a project,” said Alicia Knutson. “We had community support, and funding from our church – many people helped her with the idea.”

This kind action culminated in 75 plush blankets, in a variety of designs, themes and colors, perfect winter gifts for kids who had to be hospitalized around Christmas. Shania Knutson said she aimed to make the blankets something special.

“Sometimes there’s a certain joy in a simple gift, and especially at the holidays, it’s easy to get busy or to forget there are kids who need our attention,” she said. “We just wanted to bring them something to bring them cheer and to maybe get them to smile.”

Knutson wore her sash and crown when she brought a festive blanket to a 1-year-old patient. Her reward was a huge smile, and a thankful mom who had Knutson hold the little girl for a quick photo.

Twila Perkinson, Avera Child Life Specialist with Avera Children’s Hospital, said she was grateful for the Knutson’s time and effort.

“We’re excited to get these blankets, and our patients are, too,” she said. “Everyone enjoys something warm and cozy like this, and it’s something special they can take home. We’re grateful to Shania for this kindness, and it’s fun to see the big smiles that come when she shares these gifts.”

Knutson, who earned Miss South Dakota Teen USA title in October, said she hopes the children enjoy the blankets. Along with her mother, her sisters, Alison, Jaclynn and Kasi, helped with the fundraising, production and delivery of the blankets.

“I really had a lot of help from our community, from my friends and from my sisters and mom,” Knutson said. “It’s rewarding to be able to give back to young people in need this time of year.”

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