WATCH VIDEO: Michael Gordon
Presented by Oak River Foundation
In hindsight, getting suspended in fifth grade was a great move for Michael Gordon. That’s when he found his calling.
In late 2008 the Forest City boy was stuck at home, watching the “Today Show.” Then came a news segment that caught Michael’s attention. As mom Patricia recalls, it featured a boy who was taking action for the less fortunate in his town.
Her own son grew pensive. Then the questions came. Did the Gordons have the means to celebrate Christmas? What about other Mason County families? Do they, too, have special traditions? Do they all get cuddly blankets, as the Gordon children do every year?
“My reply was, ‘No, some kids don’t get anything. Some don’t even have necessities like blankets,’ ” Patricia says. “I saw that he was sad about this, and that’s when he asked if there was something someone could do about it.”
Michael is a young man of few words. But he’s certainly a man of action. Fueled by a child’s imagination and a mature sense of purpose, he created a program called Blankets of Joy. He set a lofty goal, hoping to collect 500 blankets to hand out to struggling local families during the holidays.
He saved his allowance. He looked around for deals. By June he had 75 blankets. In July he held a blanket drive, and by August he was up to 150. By October, 225.
Then came flu season and, with it, a bad bout of H1N1 for poor Michael. He was so sick, he couldn’t lift his head. But Blankets of Joy persevered. The community, his teachers at Midwest Central Middle School — everyone was behind him. Michael’s mission had grown bigger than himself.
“A lot of people couldn’t get over that this was a kid helping other kids,” Patricia says.
In November, a major donation came through, pushing him over the top. And come Christmas, the youngster distributed 500-plus blankets, putting smiles on the faces of countless children.
Now 12, Michael has even bigger ambitions. This year he wants to collect 750 blankets. When he gets older, he wants to start his own not-for-profit agency.
What does he have to say about all this? Simply, “it makes me happy.”
*The Gordon family has set up a special fund at Manito Community Bank. Checks may be made out to Blankets of Joy and sent to P.O. Box 646, Manito, IL 61546-9518. Also see “Michael’s Blankets of Joy” fan page on Facebook.