PELLA — Sometimes, all it takes is a tie blanket and a visit from college students to brighten the lives of local nursing home residents.

Central College student Kalee Findlay of Grimes is part of Laps of Love, a new student organization creating blankets for seniors in Pella.

Kallie Holte envisioned this opportunity - a way to serve the Pella area and the college community with the comfort of blankets. Along with close friend Findlay, Holte started the new group on campus.

The group creates hand-tied blankets, delivering them in batches of eight to 10 blankets to Jefferson Place and other local senior communities on a monthly basis.

“It’s funny that our group initials are ‘LOL,’” Holte says of the cheerful group that has been spreading companionship across Pella for the past few semesters. “We started the group to serve the community, but also to build relationships on campus.”

With about 60 group members and 25 students at each blanket-making meeting, Laps of Love turns out blankets and friendship in short order.

Cheri Doane, director of community-based learning, says student-initiated groups show exceptional dedication. “It takes energy, commitment and perseverance,” Doane says. “I am always delighted to hear students have launched a new service organization. It means they have an authentic desire to make a difference; they have perseverance and drive. Students who invest in their communities at this level will succeed in future endeavors - personal, professional, and civic. I’m glad students in Laps of Love are committed to extend hospitality through their lovingly constructed blankets to others throughout the community.”

Holte says her late Grandma Wilma was her inspiration for creating the group. An avid crocheter and blanket maker herself, she showed Holte the importance of building community and serving those in need through simple acts of kindness.

“Community service is a win, win, win scenario” Doane says. “Students win, because they acquire experience and skills that are different than those sharpened in a classroom. Community partners win, because they benefit from the skills, energy and expertise of our students, and Central College wins because the college wants to affirm the good work that is being done by nonprofits.”

A junior with majors in exercise science and pre-medicine, Holte hopes to attend medical school and eventually work as a doctor in rural areas. Her internship experience abroad in a London homeless shelter has inspired Holte to consider volunteering as a physician in developing countries. Her passion for serving others will take her to Haiti with other Central College students in Campus Ministries this May.