Alum creates nonprofit to honor son’s memory
Chris Kinsey ’20 walked the CSU stage at graduation a year late, due to COVID-19, and carried her late son Ben’s picture with her to remind herself who she does it all for.
“I’ve learned that everyone grieves differently, and for me, the only way I’m getting through it is to know I’m helping others who are going through what I went through,” said Kinsey.
Kinsey began the nonprofit Blankets from Ben following the passing of her son in May 2019. As she struggled to accept her son’s tragedy, she learned his organs saved five lives.
Through lots of prayer and searching for the right way to honor Ben, Kinsey became a strong advocate of organ donation and created Blankets from Ben in November 2020 to commemorate her son while serving fellow parents of children who have donated their child’s organs to save the lives of others.
As Kinsey said her final goodbye to her son in 2019, a counselor from an organ procurement agency handed her a crocheted blanket to tuck in her son one last time. She’s kept the beloved blanket ever since, adding that it has comforted her through the many lonely nights she grieved for Ben.
“After my son passed away, I knew his light was not done shining,” said Kinsey. “It took me over a year to figure out how I could honor his memory and giving spirit. I remembered all the hours I’d spent clinging to that blanket, and with Blankets from Ben I want these blankets to serve as a reminder that there are people who have stood in their place and survived.”
Losing a child is every parent’s worst fear, but Kinsey took that grief and turned it into an opportunity to share that same warmth she received from Ben’s blanket. Each blanket sent out is presented with a card telling Ben’s story and the reason why Kinsey began the organization. Since starting the nonprofit in November, she has partnered with Sharing Hope South Carolina, an organ tissue and recovery service based in Charleston.
Blankets from Ben gained recognition through local news outlet stories along with the help of Sharing Hope S.C., and now the nonprofit’s Facebook page has almost 700 followers. Kinsey’s plate has been full of crocheting, volunteering with Sharing Hope and taking the required steps to start an official nonprofit, but she is certainly not slowing down. An official website and Instagram page for Blankets from Ben are in the works, and she is looking for local senior facilities who can donate yarn to create more blankets for grieving parents.
For those interested in donating, send blankets, yarn, or financial contributions to: Blankets from Ben, P.O. Box 1425, Summerville, SC, 29484
Emma Slaven ’21 is a former intern within the Marketing & Communication office and a recent graduate of Charleston Southern University.