Whidbey's Project Linus blankets youth in security
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
January 17, 2012 · Updated 11:18 AM
A blanket can provide security, but to struggling youth on Whidbey Island, it can also mean a shoulder to cry on, a warm embrace and comfort during troubled times.
Project Linus is a nonprofit organization of volunteers who create blankets “to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need,” according to their mission statement.
The Whidbey/San Juan Islands County chapter of the international Project Linus organization began in April. The group started collecting blankets in September.
Since then, the group has collected 150 blankets and donated 100, said Cindi Zimmerman, chapter coordinator.
The care that makes each handmade blanket so special is written in a poem volunteers give with each blanket: “Let this blanket wrap you in friendship and cover you in love. Because this blanket was thinking of you long before it was even done.”
“There’s something that happens in the process of making the blanket,” Project Linus member Kathy Stratton said.
“And I think they can feel that,” Andrea Knoll added.
Zimmerman began a local chapter of the national organization named after a character in the Peanuts cartoon strip when an acquaintance’s daughter received a blanket.
Already organized as a group that helped with events like Relay for Life, it was easy for members to switch to creating blankets, said Lisa Anderson.
“Most of us like to volunteer anyways,” Knoll said.
“It’s a way to pay back,” Diana Vaughan said. Her grandson received a meaningful blanket after he underwent a series of surgeries.
When Gin Nordstrom’s brother’s wife died, he was given a quilt.
“He treasures it,” Nordstrom said, adding that even as an adult and a construction worker, he loves the quilt.
The group delivers blankets to Whidbey General Hospital, Juvenile Court Services, Child Protective Services, the Pregnancy Care Clinic and more.
“It’s been interesting to see what a need there is. We underestimate the need, even in a little community,” Katie O’Connor said.
While the group hasn’t met any of the children who receive their blankets due to privacy issues, the coordinators who accept the blankets are “ecstatic” and “so, so excited,” O’Connor said.
The group makes blankets sized for babies, youth and teens. They sew, crochet and knit blankets with patterns ranging from Hot Wheels to zigzags to zebra stripes.
The second part of Project Linus’ mission is to offer a fun service opportunity for community members. The group holds workshops that allow members to get together and sew.
The group also accepts donations of yarn, fabric and especially quilt batting. They’ve received donations from community members, estate sales and local businesses, including Windermere, Century 21 Trophy, Coldwell Banker Koetje, Walmart and Living Word Church.
“It’s touching how much people want to help,” Stratton said.
“Even with this tough economy,” Nordstrom added, noting the high expense of purchasing yarn for just one blanket. “It’s a blessing to have so much donated. What we really need now is people to do something with them.”
The group puts together kits of materials and supplies so those wanting to make blankets can get started easily.
To volunteer or donate money or supplies, contact email@example.com or 360-672-0511 or visit www.projectlinuswhidbey.org.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.