“Gift-giving anxiety” is a real and prevalent affliction. At Christmas, many of us stress about what to give, what to spend, and what our gifts say about us. Kindness is replaced with calculation, and in the end, gift giving becomes more of an imposition than a gesture of goodwill.

This is an affliction not suffered by Sandy McCaffree. For decades, she’s asked directly, “What do you want for Christmas?” And in 2005, her boss gave her a direct response; “Give to the children of the community.”

This set in motion the events that would transform Sandy’s outlook on gift-giving forever.

“I made some phone calls and found that there were seven foster children going into a new home here in Billings. They’d worked all year long on manners and accepting change, and they had nothing of their own on Christmas Eve,” she remembers.

Sandy told her coworkers at Broadwater Family Dentistry, and all agreed that the children had to have something.

“We all thought: who doesn’t need their own blanket and pillow?”

While shopping for these items, Sandy came across some teddy bears on sale and decided to bundle them up in the children’s care packages. From this was born Blankets & Bears.

“We did that for three years, but it got to be too much for the staff. On the fourth year, I continued it on my own,” Sandy explains. “Everything is handmade now. People and different groups donate for the supplies. The blankets are sewn by seventeen women, and there are a bunch of volunteers who help bundle.”

In 2018, 913 bundles were given to children in Yellowstone County.

“The hard thing for us is knowing this may be the only gift they get for the holidays,” says Sandy, “but it’s something to make them feel warm, safe, and loved.”

There are over 3,000 Montana children in foster care right now, nearly 1,000 in Yellowstone County alone. Every year, it is the goal of Blankets & Bears to donate 1,000 pillow/blanket bundles to children in need.

“We always fall short, but with the generosity of other people, I know we’ll get there,” says Sandy.

Don’t stress about what to give this Christmas; just give.

To donate to Blankets & Bears, visit blanketsandbears4kids.com.