By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – Emma Burkhart is working hard into another Christmas season with the organization she founded – the Keep Kids Warm Blanket Drive.
And the name says it all. The goal is to keep kids warm.
It’s a worthy cause now in its third year helping Durant and Bryan County children, started by someone not that much older than the charity itself.
Burkhart, who is 10 years old, said she got the idea a couple of years ago when she got two of the same blanket.
“I wanted to give one away and that’s what started the Keep Kids Warm Blanket Drive,” Burkhart said.
The goal this year is to bring in 1,000 blankets, and the list of outreaches and groups that will receive this year has grown, too.
Melisa Burkhart, said she is proud of her daughter and that she is surprised at what this has become.
“It has really been kind of crazy,” Melisa Burkhart said. “When she first asked if she could do it, it was just Families Feeding Families that year. And so I couldn’t believe it grew from just trying to help one organization and now this year she has nine.
“Last year, she got over 900 blankets. So it’s just crazy that it’s grown from her idea to where it is now. It’s really amazing. I’m really proud of her.”
There are many drop-off sites around Durant and some of them offer free items with blankets given or the opportunity to enter to win something in a drawing.
The blanket drive is a family affair, but Melisa said Emma is the ringleader of the group.
“She’s the boss and everything goes through her,” Melisa Burkhart said. “And my oldest daughter, Avery, helps and my husband, and my mom and dad, too.
“Normally, our entire house is full of blankets. There are two living rooms full of blankets during this time and we all help organize them and get them ready for deliveries. And then once we get them all packaged and ready, we all go deliver them. We have friends that help out, too, and this year, we’ve had to get some help going around and picking up blankets. We have a lot more drop-off locations.”
Emma said she is having fun and encouraged people to donate.
“It would really help us,” Burkhart said. “We’ve got a goal to give a lot of kids blankets.”
And her mother reiterated the encouragement and shared what the work her daughter has meant to her.
“It’s such an easy thing to do,” Melisa Burkhart said. “It’s not very expensive and a blanket is a great thing. These kids get these blankets with their Christmas gifts and a lot of them who may not have blankets benefit from it and will be able to stay warm. It’s just a great way and an easy way to give back.
“And I think Emma has shown me, and a lot of other people too, that it doesn’t have to be a big thing to help out. And it doesn’t matter how old you are to do something for other people.”
The drive will continue through Dec. 14 and drop-off sites in Durant include:
Axis Dance Company
202 S. Second Ave.
Brown’s Funeral Service
4900 W. U.S. Highway 70
Durant Intermediate School
1314 Waco St.
517 N. First Ave.
2501 W. Main St.
KLBC/KSEO/99.7 The Buzz
1418 N. First Ave.
Mackey Home Furnishings
320 W. Main St.
1203 N. Washington Ave.
2803 W. University Blvd.
Old Ice House Salon and Day Spa
215 N. Third Ave.
311 Westside Drive
Smart Mouth Family Dental
1220 N. Washington Ave.
Visual & Performing Arts Center at Southeastern (VPAC)
1614 N. First Ave.
Western Shamrock Finance
122 1/2 W. Evergreen St.