Bundles of Blankets

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Morgan Garmo got involved with Fleece & Thank You through her aunt Nancy Kattoula, a high school teacher. Kattoula met Nicholas Kristock, founder of Fleece & Thank You at PBJ Outreach with her high school volunteer group, Giving Tree.

Kattoula hosted a blanket making event at her house and introduced not only Morgan Garmo to Nicholas but many other Chaldeans. “After that there was a small group of us who were completely bought in to making Fleece & Thank You what it is today,” said Garmo. “We saw the profound impact a Fleece & Thank You Blanket made with children starting their battles as well as their families. We knew 30,000 children in Michigan are admitted to the hospital for long term treatment. It has been our goal since day one to ensure every one of those children start their battle with a Fleece & Thank You Blanket.”

Over the last three years, there have been dozens of Chaldeans participating in blanket making. Also, Chaldeans serve on the board, host blanket making events, and participate through schools. Walled Lake Central hosted a Make a Blanket Day earlier this year and a lot of Chaldeans helped head that event with Kattoula.

“They did an extraordinary job from start to finish,” said Garmo. “They fundraised not only within the school but within the community. They even got Mojo in the Morning out to help spread the word.

One of the most notable Chaldean connections to Make A Blanket Day today would be with Airtime. John Zebari first learned about the organization on Facebook and reached out to see how airtime could get involved. They hosted an event there with the Children’s Leukemia Network.

“It says a lot about people and an organization when they tell you creativity is the limit to the possibilities and are willing to make our visions for an event a reality,” said Garmo. “They  were not only willing, but excited to partner with us on a Saturday which is a busy day for them. Being able to partner with people in our community is nothing short of a blessing. It’s a great reminder of the generosity, creativity, and ambitions that are woven within our community.”

Chaldeans have not only helped make blankets, a few have been recipients. Nicholas took a photo with Rita who received a blanket during her stay in the hospital. She was going through chemo when she received a blanket.

The Fleece & Thank You team have made and delivered more than 40,000 blankets to date. “On average, Michigan has 30,000 pediatric inpatients a year,” said Garmo. “Our goal is to consistently make 30,000 blankets a year to ensure every child in Michigan starts their battle with a Fleece & Thank You Blanket. We also have plans in the world to provide Fleece & Thank You blankets across the country – we partnered with the American diabetes association and have launched our partnership with them in Arizona.”


Changing Perceptions

Following the publication of the revised section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, welcomed the change and echoed the call to end the death penalty in the United States.

“For decades, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for the end of the death penalty in the United States,” said Dewane. “As the revised Catechism states, “more effective systems of detention...which ensure the due protection of citizens: exist, ones that also maintain the human dignity of all. It is our hope that the announcement will bring new attention to this critical issue, and speed along the end of this practice, which, as Pope Francis has said, in the light of the Gospel, is ‘inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’”


Middle Eastern American Affairs

The Chaldean Community Foundation’s president, Martin Manna, was appointed to the Commission of Middle Eastern American Affairs by Governor Rick Snyder in late July. The 15-member commission was created to act in an advisory capacity to the governor, and to empower, promote, and advance the Middle Eastern American community of Michigan.


Congressman Trott Addresses Chamber Members

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Outgoing Congressman David Trott addressed both the Chaldean Chamber and Livonia Chamber members at Shenandoah Country Club on Friday, August 17 about the problems facing our government as he sees them, and offered advice for anyone aspiring to go into politics. Additionally, he spoke about a bipartisan committee he serves on, which is working to give more power to newly elected officials so freshman congressmen and congresswomen can effect real change immediately upon taking office.


A Sweet Endeavor

After nearly 25 years in the retail chocolate business, Stephanie Acho Tartoni sold her Northville Store front this past spring to another retailer, the owner of Adorn Fine Flowers. Like Stephanie who bought Chocolates by Renee in in 1996, the owner wanted to keep the name, which is nearly 30 years old and it goes with the existing retail clientele.

However, Stephanie is not giving up the sweet business all-together. “I love working with Chocolate,” she said. “It serves so many purposes. First and foremost, it is a fantastic marketing device. It is utilized in so many ways and can make people so happy.”

Knowing she wanted to continue in this field, she decided to open, the Detroit Chocolate Company. “We still manufacture out of our Northville location,” she said. “We are strictly corporate and cater to all gift-giving needs. I love the responses from our clients, knowing, that we make them look good!”

Corporate logos are timeless and taste amazing, she noted. To find out more go to,