BOISE, Idaho - Inside the South Idaho Correctional Institution, two minimum security inmates are helping the community with needle and thread.
"It makes me feel like I'm being productive you know, something to give back," said inmate Tony D'Ambra.
They're making weighted blankets. Filled with non-toxic pallets, the blankets help our bodies release serotonin and endorphins, Chemicals our bodies use to feel relaxed and calm.The blankets not only help you go to sleep but mimic a firm hug and help people feel secure, grounded and safe. The program is a partnership between the Idaho Department of Correction and the Idaho Association of Counties. A similar program is already in the works in north Idaho.
"Just as if you were to give a little kid a teddy bear, they get that same sort of comfort out of this blanket and so it is often utilized with people with autism, PTSD, anxiety, mental health disorders, and others," explained Kelli Brassfield of the Idaho Association of Counties.
So far inmates at the South Idaho Correctional Institution have made more than a dozen blankets. They're all being donated to state hospitals, state foster care programs and first responders. Organizers hope to expand the program but are in need of supplies. Cloth, thread and those plastic beads are just some of the items they need. Tony says making the blankets have taught him a new skill that he hopes to share with his family and use in his job.
"It's an awesome program I'd like to see things speed up to get better and everyone else in the other facilities gets caught up in doing it," said D'Ambra.
To learn about how you can donate supplies, click here.