PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- When the coronavirus pandemic impacted everyone's lives, a local teenager took tying the knot to a whole new level.
"I finished them, and now it's a sigh of relief because I can finally share them with people," she said.
When 18-year-old Rachael Gavlik walks into her family room, she greeted by a 7-foot mountain pile of fleece blankets.
"It's kind of a huge Jenga game where if you add one more blanket to the pile it's like don't let this be the one that topples everything over," Gavlik said.
The senior at Peters Township High School spent the past six months making them.
"There would be some weekends where it would be a blanket-making extravaganza, [sometimes] 12 to 14 hours. I would get scissor cramps because I would be cutting so much," she said.
There are more than 600 blankets for men, women and children. There are even more adaptive ones for people in wheelchairs. All blankets are being donated to Meals On Wheels and local shelters next week, with each one containing messages of hope.
"I'm helping people that need a little reminder that even if you're doing through a tough spot you can have a source of joy in your life," she said.
Pulling inspiration from her own experiences--having been bullied in school--she says the work of a tattoo artist pulled her through. Now she's paying it forward.
"I was going through a dark place with bullying and other things with school drama, and her work really provided a bright spot," Gavlik said.
She leaves an extra knot, representing herself, in each blanket to remind people they are not alone.
"If each one goes to a different person, that's over 600 lives that I've changed, which is pretty cool."
She also donated 110 boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year.
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