Lori Elholm, a dining services employee known by many on campus as the “Lunch Lady,” has made four blankets that will be auctioned during the University of Lynchburg’s upcoming Homecoming weekend.
The silent auction will be held at the Homecoming tailgate on Saturday, Oct. 16, from noon to 4 p.m. It will raise money for Lynchburg Cares, a fund that helps students, faculty, and staff in need.
For a while, Elholm said, she had been trying to think of a way to “return the favor” to Lynchburg Cares. “A few years ago, I was a recipient of Lynchburg Cares. I know of several people through the pandemic that this fund assisted.
“For me, this helps those who just become overwhelmed. This community reached out to me without hesitation or question. This is why I want to give back. I can’t afford to write a check, but I have a knack for making silly little things that people seem to love.”
Elholm, one of the Sewcial Hornets who made face masks for the University community prior to the 2020-21 academic year, is an accomplished seamstress. Her work, which includes cloth boxes, tote bags, dog leashes, and other items, can often be seen on her Facebook page.
Making T-shirt blankets is a relatively new thing for Elholm. “I made a blanket … for an alum about three years ago,” she said. “She had T-shirts from everywhere. I did a lot of research on Pinterest, found a pattern I liked, and knew I could do it. I also made my husband a small lap quilt.
“This summer, when I was doing a clean-out of the closets, I found that I had so many shirts. That is when it hit me: Let me make a blanket.”
The four blankets to be auctioned are made from Lynchburg College or University of Lynchburg T-shirts. Elholm accumulated 10 over the past seven years, while working at Lynchburg. The others she collected from various departments on campus.
“I received about two or three from each of the athletic squads, 10 from theatre, four or five from choir, a couple from fraternity/sorority,” she said. “I would say I received about 50 to 55 shirts from everyone.”
After gathering the T-shirts, Elholm cut them into 14-by-14-inch squares and then sewed them together. The blankets are two-sided. “I loved making these blankets and seeing them come together,” she said. “I love the idea of someone bidding for them, getting a totally unique item, and giving back at the same time.”
The blankets will be auctioned by Lynchburg’s Spiritual Life Center, which administers Lynchburg Cares funds. According to Office Manager Christie Rapp, approximately $32,000 was distributed over the 2020-21 academic year, helping nearly 70 people — undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff.
The fund, which has been in existence for about 20 years, is supported through donations from the University of Lynchburg community made via payroll deductions and one-time gifts.
“Because [Lynchburg Cares] is supported by the generous gifts of staff, faculty, and alumni, you know it’s coming from people who care about this community,” Elholm said. “I think people are really excited about this. It’s a totally unique blanket representing what makes this University great.”
Click here for more information and a full schedule of Homecoming events.