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Billings middle schoolers tie blankets for homeless youth, cancer patient

Will James React Club started project in November
Will James tie blankets
Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-12 19:00:09-05

BILLINGS — Aimee Williams couldn’t believe the bump on 9-year-old daughter Anna’s head would turn into the word no parent ever wants to hear.

"I remember I opened up Facebook, and the first thing I saw was an invitation to be part of a following for a little boy that was starting his treatment for cancer," Williams said. "And in CAPS I put, ‘I cannot imagine being this boy’s parents.'”

Williams is one now, four months into Anna’s at least two-and-a-half year battle with lymphoma. But it's made easier because of gestures like the one she received Monday: a tie blanket made just for Anna by the Will James React Club.

"Awww, this is really pretty," Williams said as she pulled the blanket out of the gift bag.

Aimee Williams blanket
Aimee Williams (left) holds up a blanket donated to her daughter Anna by the Will James React Club. It was club member Stella's (right) idea.

React Club member Stella, who’s sister is in Anna’s class at Meadowlark Elementary, suggested saving one of the nearly 20 tie blankets for Anna. The rest were presented to Tumbleweed to help those who need them most this holiday season.

"It's teens helping teens," said React teacher Mary Heinert. "Tumbleweed is a homeless teen shelter, so we wanted to make sure we were helping kids of our kind."

The club came up with the idea to make tie blankets in November. One club family member donated extra fabric, while two more donated their time to show the students how to make them.

Will James blankets
Will James React Club students gifted nearly 20 tie blankets that they made to Tumbleweed to help Billings' youth homeless population.

Club members braved the cold Monday afternoon to load up the blankets - as efficiently into the Tumbleweed representative's car as possible - all in the name of service and support.

"If it wasn’t for the support of the community and friends and schools, I can’t imagine somebody doing it without that," Williams said.