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7th grader collects blankets for patients
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Brooklynn Cockriel, the former Miss Young Manteca and current Royal International Miss California Preteen, gives cancer patient David Martin a blanket on Friday as part of her donation in conjunction with The Hope Project. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Brooklynn Cockriel likes blankets. 

So much so, in fact, that even during the hot summer months she draws from the dozens that she keeps under her bed to snuggle up when watching a movie. 

So when the St. Anthony’s Elementary School seventh-grader found out that the Memorial Medical Center’s cancer services outreach team was trying to put together an effort to stock blankets that can be handed out to patients undergoing treatment, she jumped at the chance to tie together her love for warmth-giving fabrics and community service. 

The former Miss Young Manteca and current Royal International Miss California Pre-Teen – who plans on going for the Miss Teen Manteca title next year – put out a call to friends and families for donations and support and has spent months gathering supplies and hand-crafting tie blankets that will make the process of undergoing chemotherapy somewhat less scary.

With her mother Amanda by her side, Cockriel delivered the blankets on Friday morning – 50 of them in the first batch, with potentially dozens more than her team of family and friends didn’t have the time to craft – so they could immediately start being handed out to people spending their holidays in the fight of their lives. 

“I have had lots of friends and family members that have faced cancer, and I’ve seen their struggles to get better and the fight that took some of their lives,” Cockriel said. “I like being able to help other people in their time of need, and when I heard about this and saw that I had a chance to be of service to people, it was something that I really wanted to do.”

Cockriel’s efforts were aligned with The Hope Project – an initiative started by cancer survivors and caregivers that have benefitted from the therapy programs that Sutter Health offers to their patients undergoing cancer treatment and want to give back to those embarking on their own respective fights. 

“The Hope Projects bring them all together in a collaborative effort to create items that will encourage, support, and offer hope to those who are receiving cancer care at Memorial Medical Center,” said Cancer Services Outreach Coordinator Cheryl Casey. “The projects also allow for community members to join in and donate or volunteer to help create these items.  This project has created a wonderful sense of purpose and community for all who have participated this year.” 

When Brooklynn isn’t tackling her schoolwork or competing in scholarship competitions and scholastic pageants, she’s usually working hard as a cheerleader for Infinite Athletics or participating as a member of a Portuguese dance group that performs in and around the Manteca area. 

She hopes that the initial blanket push will be the first of several outreach efforts to support local cancer patients who utilize the services at the Modesto hospital, and that others will be compelled to step up and do the same thing. 

“I like being able to help others when they need it,” Cockriel said. “This is something that can make their day a little bit brighter, and that’s why I love doing things like this.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.