In June of 2014 Patrick Desjardins went to fix a broken hinge on his future mother-in-law’s cedar chest. She had often said that she wanted to do something to help the rescue dogs and Patrick realized this just might be the answer to her wish. Patrick was helping to rescue puppy mill dogs and Julie was supportive and interested in helping however she could. Together they became a team. She crocheted blankets and he gave them to the rescue dogs. When the rescue posted a photo of her blankets on Facebook, other people thought, I can do that too. That was the beginning of an idea that would grow into Wrapped in Love: artisans with a mission.
July 4, 2014, marks the beginning of the Facebook group. Starting with a core group of animal lovers, Patrick, and the original group kept it simple. They would find small, volunteer-run, 501c3 dog rescues (with a preference for puppy mill rescues) and send them blankets. The idea was that the members would use the materials they had at home, whether fabric or yarn and send directly to the rescue. Wrapped in Love wouldn’t ask for money, wouldn’t fundraise, buy, or sell. The group admins would make a post about the current project and people would comment on what they were pledging. It was up to the members to follow through. A mere four years later, the mission has stayed the same but the scope has grown so much larger.
Wrapped in Love’s Facebook group now has over 4,000 members. The Director since 2015, Linda Wallace, has worked closely with Patrick Desjardins to ensure that the group doesn’t stray from its purpose. A soft blanket can literally make the difference for a rescue animal. A frightened puppy mill dog or an abandoned cat can be depressed and frightened, hiding in the back of their enclosure. A soft blanket with which they bond can bring them out of that fear and into the front where they become more adoptable. These 4,000+ members include many of the original group, new active members, rescuers, the recipients of the blankets, followers of the group, and more. Recently the group surpassed 17,000 blankets pledged with thousands of other items included.
These artisans with a mission now include belly bands, diapers, bandanas, sweaters, coats, rice socks, toys, and more with their offerings. Wrapped in Love also now has a website where the pledging is automated. Everyone is a volunteer, including the webmaster. Continuing with the idea that Wrapped in Love will never succumb to greed, they continue to operate without a budget, becoming the bridge that links those rescues who need the help the greatest with those who want to help but without this group, they would have no other way to touch the lives of so many rescue animals. Wrapped in Love has helped well over 100 rescues, many more than once. With the goal of inspiring young people, Wrapped in Love members have met with local groups including cub scouts, girl scouts, 4H groups, and even their own daycare center, to teach about animal rescue, the importance of being kind to animals, the health, and well-being of animals, and to make fleece no-sew blankets to donate.
As Wrapped in Love (WIL) has grown and shipping rates increased, they have created regional groups so that members can choose to ship closer to home. Currently, they have a Northeastern and Southeastern group, as well as a Canadian group that recently got their start. In addition, WIL-Colorado and WIL-Texas, while staying true to the WIL mission, run independently and their totals do not contribute to the overall number counts. In addition, there is a page dedicated to the sewing of belly bands and diapers as well as special project items such as slings and drag bags. With video tutorials on Youtube and on the special Facebook page, the outreach has helped many rescues, fosters, and adopters. In addition, they have a fabric sharing page. Some members have the funds but not the time. Others have the time and ability, but not the funds. That’s where the fabric angels come into play. It’s a busy page with not just fabric being shared, but lifelong friendships are developed.
The most popular item that WIL members make is the adoption blanket. Many rescues offer a WIL blanket as part of the adoption package. Each Wrapped in Love blanket has a heart attached, which represents the Love infused by the artisan. In addition, a Label of Love is attached that has a personalized message to wish the dog or cat a truly happily furever after. A donation form that the member keeps a copy of and sends the original with the shipment rounds out the package. Their Facebook page is filled with photos and testimonials of how well the blankets are received and how the animals have bonded with them. One specific story is a little-rescued dog was so very frightened and managed to get loose and run out the door of the rescue. The rescuers searched the area for hours and as night fell and it got cold, they were worried. They put a crate outside the entrance with his Wrapped in Love blanket in hopes that the smell and comfort would draw him back in. Early the next morning they found him snuggled in his blanket, just as they hoped. His blanket literally saved his life.
What do the members think of Wrapped in Love? Many of them describe the Facebook page as their happy place. The group is a family. The members are friends and some who are local to each other now meet up once a month to talk, to share fabric, to make things together, and to grab a bite to eat. With no drama, no cross-posting, with positivity and encouragement at all times, Wrapped in Love has become a beacon of light and a source of inspiration for all of the members.
You can learn more about Wrapped in Love: artisans with a mission at www.facebook.com/groups/artisanswithamission and join in the pledging at www.wil4u.com. If you have any questions you’d like to ask the Director, Linda Wallace, her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. As WIL approaches the 4th anniversary of their official start date, Linda Wallace and the rest of the group has but two wishes: to spread the word of Wrapped in Love to inspire others, and to grow the membership to include more people to pledge, create, and ship to the rescues. As she says, “Everyone can do something. This is our something.”