Turning leftover pellets into love and comfort

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Conair Group Learning about the blanket-making process are (left to right) Heidi McCumsey, Leann Lafferty, and Sage Martin, as Phyllis Renner moves material to another work area.

When a charitable group sought plastic pellets, they got a half-ton of help from IPEG’s Conair Group

Weighted blankets are used as a therapeutic tool, an effective nondrug therapy for people suffering from anxiety, sleep loss, or an inability to relax and comfort themselves normally. A weighted blanket is simply a blanket or “lap pad” filled with pellets that equals about 10 percent of body weight, plus a pound or two. Blankets for children or young teens require between 6 and 20 pounds of pellets, while lap pads contain 3-5 pounds.

Research with young people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder show that these blankets and pads provide deep pressure touch stimulation, causing their bodies to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which positively influences mood, appetite, sleep, and memory. Many parents find that draping a weighted blanket across the lap or shoulders of a child with autism helps provide a feeling of security and calm during the day and more restful sleep at night.

Conair Group Colorful lap “turtles” weighted with plastic pellets bring smiles, calm, and comfort to young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. These gifts were made by caring volunteers from the Church of Christ (Zelienople, Pa.) and filled with pellets donated by Conair Group in nearby Cranberry.

Recently, Brian Dowler, Conair Group’s vice president of aftermarket services, heard that a group from the Zelienople Church of Christ planned to make and donate weighted blankets and lap-pad “turtles” for local children. However, the blanket makers found that purchasing plastic pellets – priced at $1.50 per pound plus shipping – was prohibitive, far more than the cost of fleece and other materials.

So, he had an idea: “I spoke with Jacob Grimm in the Conair lab in Cranberry, and he showed me a Gaylord box containing 1,200 pounds of pellets – unwanted leftovers from a customer blending test – that were slated for disposal. He offered to let me have them.

“A few evenings later, with the help of some generous friends, we bagged the pellets into lots of 25 to 30 pounds and donated them to the blanket makers.”

Conair Group Completing a “Reach for the Stars” weighted blanket are Lisa Martin (right) and Joyce Gladman.

The gift was deeply appreciated. Becky Krivak, who heads the blanket-making group said, “I had a teacher request 10 weighted lap blankets for her school a couple of weeks ago. I delivered seven to her this week and was down to six pounds of pellets. I was hoping my friend Brian would have connections and could get me a discount on an order. He just called… Conair has more than 1,000 pounds of pellets for free! I have tears in my eyes! ONE THOUSANDS POUNDS! FREE!”

“It is a great thing that this leftover material can be put to a great use,” said Dowler. “Our ‘junk pellets’ will save this team of women about $1,800. More important, many families of special-needs children will benefit from IPEG’s generosity.”

Conair Group Becky Krivak (right foreground), reviews blanket-making patterns with Phyllis Renner, Amy McCumsey, and Jenny Lafferty. In the background (right), another blanketeer, Debbie Holdren, is busy at work.

Thanks to Conair Group for sending this feel-good story about the plastics industry helping out in the community.