- Written by: Bryan Hunt - Breese Journal Editor
A special anniversary — make that angelversary — is fast approaching. One that will touch many hearts.
This Sunday, Sept. 24, marks the 10th year of the passing of Galen Huelsmann of Aviston.
The son of Carol and Allan Huelsmann and brother to Anna, Galen died on Sept. 24, 2013, at age 16, after a 14-month battle with cancer.
Galen was a sophomore at Central Community High School in Breese where he was an honorary member of the varsity football team.
He was also a member of St. Francis Catholic Church in Aviston.
Carol wants to thank the community for contributing to the "Galen Blankets" project and enabling it to continue for the past 10 years.
For this unique project, people either donate fabric for Huelsmann to make the blankets, or donate money so she can purchase the materials for the blankets.
"It's kind of my way of saying 'Thank you,'" she said.
Huelsmann said it's also her way of letting people know the project continues, "and the money that you did donate five years ago did get used for it."
Blankets going near, far
Huelsmann recalled a nurse practitioner with the Cancer Care Center in Breese reaching out to her, to bring them blankets.
This was three or four years ago.
Huelsmann said the patients and families who go to that clinic donate a lot to the project.
On the morning of July 28, Huelsmann delivered 140 blankets to Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
That put the "Galen Blankets" project at over 3,000 blankets delivered just to Children's Hospital, over the past 10 years, "and hundreds delivered locally."
During Christmas week in 2022, Huelsmann drove around the community and delivered six blankets herself "to people that were sick."
But during the COVID-19 pandemic, Children's Hospital was not accepting any blankets. You can imagine what happened to the production process.
"My basement was filling up with blankets," Huelsmann said, "because families were spending time at home."
Huelsmann needed to do something with the blankets, so she contacted SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, because they have a large facility for storing items.
Huelsmann ended up taking 150 blankets to Cardinal Glennon during the pandemic, "because they had a place to store them, and let them sit for three days."
The way she looks at it, Huelsmann said it didn't matter where the blankets went, but she needed to get them to the children who were hospitalized.
Two blankets went out the last week of July, as she was contacted by two people through Facebook.
- Written by: Kelly Jo Ross - Breese Journal Reporter
New Baden Elementary is proud to announce the arrival of a book vending machine.
"The machine is part of an incentive program for students to win free books," said Patrick Weathers, principal at New Baden Elementary.
This project was initiated by Mrs. Shari Tockstein (retired Title 1 teacher) last year and brought to life through the design help of Ms. Emily Argo (current Title 1 teacher) at New Baden Elementary.
"Through Mrs. Tockstein's vision and the use of scholastic funds, we will be able to replenish the book vending machine," said Weathers.
Weathers and New Baden Elementary can't thank Tockstein and Argo enough, as well as Ben Brownback with the B2Group Event Agency, who "generously donated" for the machine to be paid in full.
The book vending machine will be used as an incentive for students to read. The kids do not pay; there is a special golden token where the kids can earn free books.