ELMIRA — The power of love, hope, and compassion went into making five special blankets for a family who lost their eight-year-old son nearly a decade ago.


Tracy Nist of Elmira lost her son, Elijah, 8, to Swine Flu in 2009. Afterwards she had someone take his shirts, bed sheets, and other clothes to make a special blanket for each member of the immediate family. This would include his sister, Chelsea Nist. During the big move to her own place, Chelsea, was donating things to the local Salvation Army.


Unfortunately, the special blanket in memory of her beloved little brother was donated by accident.


It has been a source of great heartache for Chelsea who was very close to her brother. A state-wide search has been underway to find the lost blanket, and bring it back to Chelsea.


Tracy Nist spoke with Genesee Country Express about the family’s powerful journey to find the blanket that has a special message from Elijah to Chelsea.


“Everyone has been so kind in helping us look for this blanket,” she said. “We contacted the Salvation Army who told us that donations are often shipped to other Salvation Army stores in the state.”


“We are all so heartbroken that this happened,” Nist continued. “Unfortunately it is that time of year when Salvation Army is overwhelmed with donations. They can’t store everything in one place, so a lot of the times it is sent to another location.”


Chelsea Nist was often known as “Kitty” to Elijah since she would play with him all the time. The siblings were only six years apart.


“Chelsea realized a few weeks ago that the bag with the blanket was missing, and she realized what she had done,”

Tracy Nist said. “We didn’t even go through the bags before we made the donation.”


There were five blankets made for each member of the family, Tracy, her husband, and her three daughters.


All the other members have their special blanket and message from their son and brother. However, Chelsea is the one who is most heartbroken by this loss. This was the part of her little brother that she had left to hold onto.


“We are glad we still have ours, but she is heartbroken,” Tracy Nist said. “They were the ones who always played together, and he called her his Kitty.”


“Thankfully we are getting the message out there through media and social media,” Nist continued. “Maybe the blanket was sold prior to us figuring out it was missing, or maybe it is out of state.”


Tracy Nist said the family is very blessed the media has been interested in sharing their story.


“We are able to see the kindness of everyone who has been searching,” she said. “It has been a real eye-opener to my family.”

Elijah was the couples only son, and he was a bright light to all who knew him.


The message on Chelsea’s blanket reads, “Dear Chelsea … my dearest Kitty, I loved your kindness and your playful ways. You were so very sweet and special to me. Thank you for that. I will love you forever. I know you loved me! Your little brother, Elijah.”


“We love our blankets, and with them we can wrap ourselves in Elijah’s love,” Tracy Nist said. “I found a woman on Etsy to make our blankets. I knew I only had one shot to do this, since these were all the clothes I had of his. I had to find the perfect person who would understand what these blankets mean to my family. She stayed in contact with me the whole time, and was very careful with the clothes. She sewed all the messages on back of the blankets as well.”


If you have the blanket or find the blanket please contact Tracy Nist at tracy.nist@yahoo.com or call 607-207-6491.