For many, a blanket may seem like an ordinary object, but to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, homeless or otherwise in need, it represents love, warmth, comfort and security.
Project Linus recognizes the importance that a blanket holds to such a child. The non-profit organization dedicates itself to creating, collecting and distributing blankets to kids of all ages in hospitals, shelters, social service centers or anywhere a child might be in need of a big hug.
Established in 1995 by a Colorado woman named Karen Loucks, Project Linus has grown into a nationwide association with chapters in all 50 states. Loucks got the idea for the organization from an article written by Pulitzer Prize-winning photo-journalist, Eddie Adams.
The story featured a young child who had been going through intensive chemotherapy. She said that her security blanket helped her get through the treatments.
After reading the piece, Loucks decided to provide homemade blankets to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born.
The volunteers who participate in the organization by making blankets are referred to as "blanketeers."
They work tirelessly to sew, knit and crochet thousands upon thousands of blankets each year.
Locally, the Seattle/King and Pierce Counties Chapter of Project Linus makes on average 6,000 blankets per year.
The chapter holds monthly workshops at the Woodinville Fire Station and according to chapter coordinator, Linda Lane, anywhere from 15 to 25 people attend the sessions.
She says, "It’s a great service opportunity plus we have lots of fun, too." She adds, "It’s rewarding because it benefits children in need. And by making a blanket, you’re showing someone that you care."
The blankets are distributed locally to Harborview, Swedish, Children’s and Mary Bridge hospitals, as well as Eastside Baby Corner, Children’s Resource Center and FAME Child and Family Development Center.
"We get such a wonderful response when we deliver the blankets," comments Lane. "The staff members are so grateful and they always tell us how much the children and their families appreciate the blankets. They tell us stories, too, about how attached the kids get to their blankets. Recently, I heard about one child at Swedish, who had gotten one of our blankets and was about to be released from the hospital. Before leaving, he spilled apple juice on his blanket and the staff sent it to the laundry to be cleaned. The boy refused to go until he got his blanket, explaining that it had been given to him and he wanted to take it home. He was very attached to it and obviously, it meant a lot to him."
Lane explains that blankets of all styles are welcome, including quilts, tied comforters, fleece blankets, crocheted or knitted afghans and receiving blankets in bright, cheerful colors.They must be made from cotton or cotton/poly blends and be machine washable and dryable.
"Much of the material is donated, which is great," adds Lane. "And Pacific Fabric stores are a big supporter. They have regular fabric drives."
The local woman emphasizes that people don’t have to be expert seamstresses to be "blanketeers." She says, "It’s relatively easy to make a blanket and we’re happy to teach others who are interested in participating. I encourage anyone who wants to help to come to one of our monthly workshops. And we’re always looking for fabric donations, too."