Bemidji family gives back each year to honor Nana’s memory

Donations go to Joe Lueken Cancer Center patients in honor of Maggie Robins

Bemidji family gives back each year to honor Nana’s memory

Every January, Heather Johnson and her family members donate homemade blankets to patients at the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center in Bemidji, Minnesota.

It’s their way of giving back and honoring Maggie Robins, the woman they called Nana.

“Her thing that she would do for her birthday was she would go find an organization and she would find stuff on their wish list and go get it and donate it on her birthday,” said Johnson, Robins’ daughter.

The giver

Robins was a breast cancer patient at Sanford Bemidji, receiving her chemotherapy treatments in the infusion center. She was also the matriarch of a tight-knit family.

“In my high school years when she was going through treatment, she stayed with us,” said Kyla Dabrowski, Robins’ granddaughter. “She was a very caring person, always wanting to do things for everyone else, and I got to experience that. I got to grow up with that, and so she played a big part of who I am today.”

Robins succumbed to cancer in July of 2017, and as her family members mourned, they sought to honor her legacy by continuing to give back.

“We wanted to keep that up for her birthday. We wanted to donate. We wanted to do something that we could give back in her name,” said Johnson. “And the thing that made the most sense to us was to do it for something that related to her.”

‘She was our glue’

They decided to give blankets to cancer patients at Sanford Health. They would do it every year on her birthday. This year, Robins would have been 65. So her family donated more than 65 items, including more than 40 blankets, as well as 30 homemade scarves.

“She was our glue and she was the one who taught us to give back,” said Johnson. “I want my grandkids to know my mom. She was a grandma and I want them to know the things that she did. So it’s important for us as a family to keep that alive.”

Maggie Robins was a giver. Now her legacy is being passed down from her daughter and granddaughter to the next generation.

“She’s not here with us anymore, but she’s still from afar,” said Dabrowski. “She’s still the glue that’s keeping all of this going in our memories, in what we’ve been taught. So I think she’s very proud of us.”

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Posted In Bemidji, Cancer, Community