Kira was a baby living in Guatemalan foster care. During this time, she received a very special gift from her caregivers. It was a baby blanket. Post adoption, she moved to the United States (U.S.), and the blanket traveled with her. To this day, Kira’s blanket continues to be a source of comfort. Kira has always hoped to provide the same comfort to other children. Especially those who are living in foster care. This year, she found a way to do it.

Kira is a senior at The Crefeld School, a private school in Northwest Philadelphia. For years, students from the school’s sewing department have made stuffed animals for children living in foster care. The program is called Cuddle Buddies. Every year, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) receives donations from the program. The donations are then gifted to young ones in care across the city. Crefeld students put an incredible amount of love, creativity, and hard work into their creations.

Kira learned to crochet at a friend’s sleepover. She made a baby rhino and was surprised at how quickly she picked the skill up. Since then, Kira has crocheted countless animals and dolls. Many of her designs come from patterns she finds online. Others are born from her own original designs. She also loves to accessorize her creations. This includes giving an octopus a cute little hat. Or styling a doll’s hair with locks. The possibilities are endless.

Two crocheted dolls that are ready to be gifted.Kira feels it is important to provide gifts of love and comfort to kids living in foster care. “A lot of things are switched up (in care) and to have something that stays with you can be comforting,” she notes.

Kira’s creations will also help her to graduate. She created an Etsy storefront for one of her final school projects. It’s called CrocheByKira: Crochet for Kids in Foster Care. Kira doesn’t make any money from the sales. The money she receives goes toward shipping and material costs. Crocheting the animals has benefits for her, too. “It’s really relaxing, and I can watch movies while doing it, so it’s a little like self-care a little bit,” she explains.

Gena Lopata is Kira’s senior advisor, and they have worked together for many years. Gena is proud and happy to see Kira use her talent to fulfill her dream of helping others. “I’m not surprised by her warmth and compassion, because that’s who she is, but I’m so glad to see her touch the world in a meaningful way.” 

Kira wants to continue to help others, and specifically, to work with children. She has applied to several colleges with the goal of becoming a pediatric surgical nurse. She’s unsure of which school she’s attending this fall, but wherever she goes, there is one guarantee. Her blanket is going with her. 

If you’re interested in purchasing one of Kira’s crocheted stuffed animals, check out her Etsy page.