Announcing Our Kindness Grant Winners for May 2024

Kindness Grant Winner Annie's Kindness Blankets
Left to Right, Aubrianne (Annie’s cousin, Barbara’s daughter), Annie, Barbara, Christina (in front) and Angela, (Mia not pictured).

Barbara Buckley and her great-nieces, Christina Varney, Angela Varney, and Mia Varney (Abington, MA) are the founders of Annie’s Kindness Blankets (AKB). They make no-sew blankets that have labels ironed on that speak of kindness and come in their own tote bag and they give them to anyone who needs a hug and to know they are not alone.

Annie, the Varney sister’s mom, and Barbara’s niece, suffered from depression and died by suicide in 2015. Barbara with Annie’s daughters, wanted to do something to help others, to stop the stigma around depression and suicide and to honor Annie along the way. Inspired by Annie’s hugs, they started Annie’s Kindness Blankets, saying the blankets are representative of an everlasting hug waiting for anyone who may need them. They hope the blankets let others know they are not alone. 

Barbara said, “Our original goal was to make 35 AKBs (this was Annie’s age when she passed), to help heal our hearts a little, but to also help 35 more people know they are not alone in their struggles. Since then, with an army of volunteers, we have delivered over 13,000 AKBs. We never imagined in a million years that so many people would associate with our story.

What Annie’s Kindness Blankets represents is hope for those who may need it during a dark time. We believe by putting Annie in front of us, and not behind us, telling her story, and sending out some love has helped others know that it’s okay to not be okay. They matter. We send an “everlasting hug” to anyone that may need it.”

Kindness Grant winner Annie's Kindness Blankets
Left to Right: Chrissy, Angie, Annie (in the middle), Barbara, and Mia.

Annie’s Kindness Blankets also opens up a safe space for parents, teachers, and students to have healthy conversations about suicide and depression while making the blankets. They have had volunteers from kindergarten students to Girls Scouts, Eagle Scouts, sports teams, college students, individuals, and large corporations all coming together to make blankets.

They’ve teamed up with several organizations such as Sleep in Heavenly Peace (Middlesex, MA), an organization that provides beds for kids in need. The beds they make now come with Annie’s Kindness Blankets. And Simon Says Give (Worcester, MA), an organization that throws birthday parties for foster kids. Now each party they throw includes a gifted Annie’s Kindness Blanket.  

Each person who comes in contact with Annie’s Kindness Blankets walks away with more hope in their heart – whether it be a recipient or a volunteer.

They say none of this will bring their mom back, “who we miss with all our hearts, but helping others helps to keep our hearts a little more peaceful.”

If you know anyone who may need an everlasting hug or would like to volunteer to make Annie’s Kindness Blankets you can send them an email

Annie’s Kindness Blankets is fighting the stigma of depression and suicide, one blanket at a time. They’ve engaged hundreds of volunteers, partnered with other organizations, and helped change thousands of lives. They are amazing and we’re so proud to have them in our MKRO family.


Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness?  Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.

Do you have an act-of-kindness project you want to do but need help funding it? Submit your idea for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $500 and let us help you spread kindness.

8 thoughts on “Announcing Our Kindness Grant Winners for May 2024”

  1. Jackie- you have found another wonderful organization of people spreading kindness. Thank you for sharing their story & honoring them with an award. Matt’s Kindness truly does Ripple On.

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