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Kids Who Make SA Great: Blanket donating teen pulls back the cover on personal struggle

On the outside Samantha Sanchez is a picture of confidence and leadership. On the inside, there are times her very public charity becomes overwhelming.

SAN ANTONIO — Samantha Sanchez is a fantastic human interest story. She is a teenager who is the CEO of her own non-profit, Sam's Covers. Great study. Devout Christian.

"I'm super Catholic," she said.

The 17-year-old was inspired at Stone Oak Elementary school to start creating blankets for children in need.

"A wonderful teacher, Gina Ryder, was doing a blanket making project where kids there raised some money and they went out, bought fleece and made blankets out of them," Lya Icaza-Sanchez said.

Icaza-Sanchez is Samantha's mother. The blankets went to kids with cancer. But her daughter wanted to do more. She wanted her own blanket producing project. Her vision was to go global.

"I was like whoa wait a minute," Icaza-Sanchez said. "I think a lot of times kids have these big ideas, right?"

This was more than an idea from a 5th grader. Her mother said her determined daughter kept pushing to make the project a reality. Meantime, her mother---like most parents---was trying to keep up with the day-to-day of two kids and a husband who worked out-of-town.

"I'm pretty persistent. I definitely push a lot to where I want to be," Samantha said. "Not like in a bad sense or anything."

She forced her mother to look at the calendar and set a date for the blanket making operation. It was the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

"She said this is when we're going to do it. Well, I said I have to work," Icaza-Sanchez said. "She said well you need to take the day off."

Her mother has been taking those days off ever since. Samantha turned her idea into Sam's Covers. She distributes blankets to children in need particularly those who live in shelters.

In fact, last year the organization donated more than 800 blankets to those in need including on a mission trip to Africa.

Samantha said the trip to Uganda took five days, four boxes of fleece blankets, two carry-ons with her clothes for a trip that lasted two weeks.

The high school senior believes her blankets are a calling from God.

"I didn't have like a crazy epiphany where I heard him saying like Sam you have to do this," she said.

According to Samantha, she has never felt compelled to stop. The blankets bring comfort to kids who are neglected, abused and victims of sex-trafficking.

The fleece covers also help the benefactor.

"I am really shy. I guess it's easy to think that someone that's doing all of this---they have to be a super outgoing person," she said.

The teen said she was diagnosed with social anxiety. It's a mental condition that affects nearly 7 percent of the United States. 

The blankets. The media attention her projects command force the teen to face the problem head-on. And, it's not always easy.

"I can be anxious," she said. "But like an hour (later) I'm okay. This has almost really given me a coping mechanism."

Her anxiety has not become an obstacle for her achievement. She's been accepted at Baylor University. She leads a girl's retreat at church. More importantly, she's not worried about being labeled became of her anxiousness.

She continues to deliver covers for those who need to be blanketed in the toughest times.

Know a kid doing outstanding things in our community? Send Marvin an email: Greatkids@kens5.com. #KENS5GreatKids


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