Port Alberni’s Angel Magnussen has won $10,000 in the Post Search for Goodness nationwide contest that she’ll use to help spread even more love to kids in need.
Angel, who has Down Syndrome and has spent a lot of time in hospital and visiting doctors due to other health issues, is dedicated to helping sick kids. In 2012 she created Hugginz by Angel, a non-profit organization that provides hand-sewn blankets, pillows and other items for critically ill and special needs children around the world.
With a mission to promote well-being and relieve distress for children who are suffering, Magnussen and her family also raises money for charities such as Variety and families in need across Canada.
“We know Canada is filled with people who make our communities, big and small, better places to live,” says David Bagozzi, VP marketing, Post Foods Canada Inc in a press release. “Angel’s commitment to helping children in need started when she was young and she continues to be dedicated to helping as many children as she can. She is truly inspiring and she embodies the goodness we want to recognize in the Post Search for Goodness.”
The Post Search for Goodness program launched in May and Canadians had until July 25 to nominate, in 150 words or less, an individual or a team of up to three people who go above and beyond in their community.
People were able to vote until July 31 for their favourite story. With more than 460 nominations and 232,920 total votes, the 10 nominees with the most votes moved on to the finalist category and the winner was selected by a panel of judges at Post Foods Canada Inc.
Angel’s win came as a bit of a surprise, Cheryl Magnussen, Angel’s mom, said as her votes began coming in at a slow pace.
“When she was nominated it was really late and the person who was in the lead position at that point had well over 10,000 votes already,” Cheryl said. “In those first four days she had like 300 votes, I thought we’d never get there. And then wow, it just took off, people started sharing and sharing and voting.
“Before you knew it there were another 1,000 followers and 1,500 votes would come in each day.”
Cheryl said when the win was confirmed Angel was completely speechless but eventually said with her winnings, she can now sew more blankets.
Angel and her mom plan to travel to Toronto near the end of October to film an interview with Post Foods Canada Inc.
The $10,000 will help Angel with sewing supplies for the next several months.
“It means a lot more blankets are going to get sewn now,” Cheryl said.
Angel also had the most votes for last year’s Post Search for Goodness but couldn’t accept the prize—filming a commercial in Toronto—because she was in the hospital.
“We weren’t really terribly saddened when they didn’t pick her because we understood why they couldn’t pick her,” Cheryl said.
Angel and Cheryl spend about $1,000 on postage per month and go through close to 56 metres of material a week—with every metre costing anywhere from $13 to $20.
“In the house alone we had 41 blankets yesterday and I managed to only get eight in the mail and that was it, so once that money comes through there will be more,” Cheryl said
Right now Angel has a waiting list of 180 kids who want a Hugginz by Angel blanket; a list like that can take up to six months to fulfill, given Angel averages about 10 blankets a week.
“We’re constantly looking to bring in more funding because we’re run completely on donations,” Cheryl said. “People mail material and we’re always very thankful.”
Twenty-year-old Angel said she continues to make the blankets because “sick kids need it.”
Her dedication to help sick kids even remained when Angel herself was in the hospital in Vancouver last year.
“We knew she was getting really depressed because she was really worried about her kids,” Cheryl said.
Not able to go home, Cheryl set up a sewing studio for Angel at the hospital so she could continue to sew remotely.
“She would sit there with her IV pole, sewing with her head on the sewing machine, so sick but still sewing. That’s dedication when you’re that sick but still working on it,” Cheryl said.
Each one of the Hugginz blankets has four hearts sewn into the corners and a pocket in the centre for the kids over three years old to put their stuffed animals or beloved items in.
“The families tell us what their kids’ favourite things are and then she picks out the material based on all their likes. And if we don’t have it we put a call out to Team Hugginz on Facebook.”
Most recently Angel sewed two blankets for two little boys who were involved in a house fire, tragically losing their mother, older brother and little sister.
“They deserved exactly what their favourite stuff was,” Cheryl said. “We put the call out and we got material from the States and eastern Canada with exactly what these kids wanted.”
Angel has also recently made blankets for refugee children from Iraq and Syria.
Angel hugs every quilt before it leaves the Hugginz studio so each child will feel her love when they wrap themselves in it.
Families and friends who want to nominate a child to receive a Hugginz by Angel blanket can go to www.hugginzbyangel.com. And anyone who would like to help Angel sew in her studio can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.