Spotlight: UI grad gives blankets to hospitalized children


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Kizzy Marco uses a saying from her yoga practices that goes like this: "If you can, then you must."

But the University of Iowa graduate doesn't limit that directive to just yoga. She lives it.

The passionate Marco has continued her giving ways by working with the nonprofit organization Project Linus, whose mission is to "provide love, a sense of security, warmth, and comfort to children who are seriously ill …"

In her second year of working with Project Linus, Marco has made fleece blankets for pediatric patients at the UI Children's Hospital.

Marco graduated from the UI in May with a theater degree. Like many other college graduates, the 22-year-old has struggled to find work in a not-so-friendly economy.

Having filled out 26 job applications, she is currently unemployed. But that hasn't stopped her from getting involved with two of her main passions: helping others and children.

"I love kids," Marco said. "I just feel we can learn so much from them."

And those are not just some flamboyant words from the mouth of a dramatic theater major. Marco has surrounded herself with opportunities to help kids throughout her life.

The lively Illinois native has done the typical baby-sitting since she was 11 years old. In fact, it is something she still does today.

But her other experiences aren't so typical.

In 2006, Marco was named the Young Woman of the Year by the West Suburban Chamber of Commerce near her home town of La Grange, Ill. This was in part because of her work with tutoring kids from low-income households.

This past summer, she held an internship at the Seattle Children's Theater as an education intern, and she worked with 280 students. Marco described her time there as a "life-changing experience."

Gwen Senio, a manager of the Child's Life program at the Children's Hospital, said she's seen that Marco's work has changed patients' stays.

"She was thrilled about the opportunity to give and recognized the value of giving," Senio said.

She noted that the colorful blankets relieved patients rooms of the "sterile hospital feel."

Marco first decided to get involved last year after seeing her mother work with the organization.
Last year, volunteers were able to donate 79 blankets. On Dec. 3, Marco — with the help of friends and strangers — made 177 fleece blankets.

"It never occurred to me not to," Marco said when asked about her motivations for continuing with Project Linus.

One person who came to help make blankets Dec. 3 was Patricia Hand of Iowa City. Having never met Marco before, Hand was inspired by her willingness to help others. Hand said Marco reminded her of former-president Herbert Hoover's "Uncommon Man" speech because of the way she stands out from other college-aged people.

Of all of her volunteer opportunities she's had, Marco said Project Linus is her favorite.

"I think its just important to give back in some way," she said. "Life can be hard on everybody. We need to give back when we can."

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