CINCINNATI -- Family homeless shelters in Greater Cincinnati are bracing for a surge of new clients as summer -- often one of the most difficult seasons for families in poverty -- descends on the region.
Sixteen-year-old Michaela Vogel can't meet all of their needs by herself, but she's working on what she can do: Lend a little comfort and dignity to the lives of people who might experience only brief gasps of either.
"I actually genuinely like helping a lot of people," Vogel said.
With the help of her church, Vogel made 97 no-sew fleece blankets for homeless Cincinnatians in 2016. She hopes to exceed 100 in 2017.
A handmade blanket might seem like a small gesture, and each one takes her only about 30 minutes to make, but the impact it has on the person who receives it can be huge, she said.
"They're happy, clapping, saying 'Thank you,'" she said. "It makes me really happy knowing that even simple things we take for granted can show love and support for people who normally don't get those kinds of things."
The main challenge Vogel faces as she makes her blankets isn't time or energy, but finding the money for materials, she said. Her church helped fund her efforts in 2016, but she hopes reaching out to more people will help her raise enough money to create even more blankets for Cincinnatians without homes.
"I would love to do it every year if I could," she said.
If you'd like to contribute to Michaela's blanket quest, you can make a donation online.