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Tryon's Blessings for Blank campaign comforts hospitalized children

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Natalie Tryon is raising money for her Blessings for Blank campaign, which will provide Medi Teddys for children at Blank Hospital.

Natalie Tryon is bringing back her Blessings for Blank campaign, which saw so much success when she first held it at Roland-Story High School. But she’s adapting the project due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tryon, now a senior at Simpson College, is raising money to supply Medi Teddys – stuffed animals that cover IV bags – to the kids who are hospitalized at Blank Hospital in Des Moines.

“I first started Blessings for Blank when I was a junior and senior in high school back in 2015 and 2016, when I used it as my project during J-Term,” Tryon said.

J-term at Roland-Story is a several-day period when school resumes after winter break and students work on independent projects. For Tryon, a 2017 graduate of R-S, the Blessings for Blank campaign was something she started in the fall of 2015.

In January of 2017, Tryon delivered almost 1,200 gifts to the children at Blank – gifts ranging from footie pajamas for babies to plush blankets for teenagers.

Blessings for Blank was a project inspired by an act of kindness she herself had experienced while hospitalized.

One day in 2015, while Tryon was in the hospital, out of state, far from family, she received a gift from two teenaged girls she didn’t know. It was called a Pabs Pack, filled with a variety of items, and for Tryon it was a source of comfort and delight.

Her favorite gift in the pack was a stuffed penguin.

“For me personally when I received the gift, it gave me a sense of home when I was far away,” Tryon said. “It helped you know that others out there were cheering for you, were there for you.”

A Medi Teddy is a plush bear sleeve that fits over a hospitalized child's IV bag.

Thirteen-year-old Ella Casano was also inspired by a Pabs Pack she received and used the stuffed penguin as a prototype for her invention, the Medi Teddy, which covered the IV bag on the stand in her room.

“The cover for the IV bag makes it less scary and intimidating to the kids in the hospital,” Tryon said.

She has been collecting monetary donations to buy Medi Teddys for the kids at Blank, and in just three weeks raised more than $1,000 – enough for 50 teddys.

Tryon is continuing to accept donations through Friday and will deliver the teddys to Blank by Nov. 3. Donations can be made through the Blessings for Blank Facebook page. Any donations received after Friday will be sent directly to Medi Teddy to benefit children nationally.

“I’m incredibly grateful for all the support and kindness from the community,” Tryon said. “This would not be possible without everyone’s support.”

During her junior and senior years at Roland-Story High School, Natalie Tryon raised money and collected donated toys and gifts for her Blessings for Blank campaign. This year, due to the pandemic, she is raising money to buy Medi Teddys for the children at Blank Hospital.