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On Christmas Eve, 1995, Karen Loucs read an article titled “Joy to the World” appeared in Parade Magazine. It was written by Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist, Eddie Adams. Part of the article featured a petite, downy haired child named Laura:
“Laura has unusual compassion for others,” Charlotte Barry-Williams of Oceanside, California, says of her daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1993. “I guess part of the reason is that she has experienced so much pain herself.”
A special “blankie” has helped Laura, 3, get through more than two years of intensive chemotherapy. She takes it to the hospital with her when she goes for treatment. When she was first diagnosed, 97 percent of her bone marrow contained cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy has helped eradicate the cancer, she has had to endure nausea, high fevers and the loss of her hair. An allergic reaction at one point caused her to lose vital signs.“She doesn’t understand what cancer means,” her mother says. “She’s a very joyous and happy person, very curious.” Her mother hopes Laura can start preschool next spring.
After reading the article, Karen decided to provide homemade security blankets to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center, and the beginning of Project Linus was born.
Project Linus National Headquarters is now located in Belton, Missouri. National President Patty Gregory and Vice President Mary Balagna direct and orchestrate the activities of Project Linus chapters located across the United States. Patty has been involved with the organization in the Kansas City area since April 2000 and Mary in Central Illinois since late 1998, as chapter coordinators and now as directors and officers. Mary also maintains a very busy chapter, donating an average of 350 blankets every month to local children. With chapters in all 50 states, Project Linus continues to grow. Blankets are collected locally and distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, or anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug.
Where Can I Find A Chapter?
Visit our Chapters page here to find a chapter near you. Keep in mind that everyone at Project Linus is a volunteer. Personal issues, travel, work, and family all take priority at times over chapter duties. Please be patient in waiting for your reply.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Make a blanket and donate it to your local Project Linus chapter. They will take your blanket to a facility where it will be given to a deserving child.
I HAVE FABRIC OR OTHER BLANKET-MAKING MATERIALS TO DONATE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Drop them off at any Missouri Sewing Machine Company location. Materials must be new, unused, washable, and free of contaminants such as mold, mildew and smoke. They should be cotton or cotton/poly blend fabrics. Cotton or acrylic batting is acceptable and yarns that are washable. Knits, double knits, and other fabrics not appropriate for a child’s blanket may not be acceptable.
I KNOW A CHILD IN NEED OF A BLANKET. WHAT CAN I DO?
Most children receive a Project Linus blanket through a local hospital, shelter, or other agency. If you know a child in crisis who will not likely get a Project Linus blanket from one of these facilities, please click here (http://www.projectlinus.org/volunteer/volunteer.php?StateKey=MO#tgt) to contact our local chapter.
WHAT TYPE OF BLANKETS DOES PROJECT LINUS ACCEPT?
Project Linus accepts NEW, HANDMADE, WASHABLE, blankets and afghans for giving to children ages 0-18 years. Project Linus blankets are not donated to adults. As a national policy they accept all sizes and styles, although some chapters may have more narrow requirements based on the needs of the facilities to which they donate. Project Linus has a non-smoking policy for chapter coordinators. Coordinators must be non-smokers and live and store blankets in a smoke free environment. Project Linus blankets must be of excellent quality and free from contaminants. Special care should be taken to ensure that blankets are free of smoky smells or any chemicals which could cause problems for a child. Ensure that blankets are free of pet or animal hair. Hospitals will not accept these blankets, and they will most likely be discarded. Recent studies show that laundering these blankets does not remove contamination, and in some cases can even make it worse. Always check blankets carefully for pins, and remove any embellishments such as buttons that could be swallowed.
WHAT TYPE OF BLANKETS DOES PROJECT LINUS NOT ACCEPT?
Project Linus chapter coordinators are instructed to reject blankets that are not of excellent quality. In addition they must be free from contaminants. Special care should be taken to insure all blankets are free of smoky smells or any chemicals which could cause problems for a child. Hospitals will not accept these blankets, and they will most likely be discarded. Recent studies show laundering such blankets does not remove contamination, and in some cases can even make it worse. Again, if unusually strong smells due to chemicals used in detergents, fabric softeners and dryer sheets, mold and mildew or smoking products are apparent, most hospitals will discard the blanket rather than jeopardize the health of a patient. Always check blankets carefully for pins, and remove any embellishments such as buttons that could be swallowed. Thank you for helping to make sure that Project Linus blankets are safe and healthy, and will bring only comfort and security to a child in need!
WHAT ABOUT SIZES?
Project Linus donates blankets to children, infants through teens. Many sizes are appropriate depending on chapter need. For example, blankets could be as small as 36″ × 36.” The majority of Project Linus blankets are about 40″ × 60″, or what is called “crib size.” Blankets could be as large as twin size for teens. Local chapters may have certain preferences depending on the facilities to which they donate. Visit our Chapters page to locate contact information for your local Project Linus chapter so that you can ask about specific current needs.
HOW CAN I MAKE A MONETARY DONATION?
We have several ways you can donate, with the most popular being that of paying online via credit card. Please click here (www.projectlinus.org/donations) to go to the donation page and for more information.
HOW ARE MONETARY DONATIONS USED BY THE ORGANIZATION?
There are many expenses involved in maintaining Project Linus. Normal expenses for our organization are: fabric, batting, yarn, other blanket-making supplies, blanket labels, printing, office supplies, shipping, accounting and auditing to name a few.
WHERE CAN I FIND A PATTERN FOR MAKING A PROJECT LINUS BLANKET?
Here are three links to some easy quilting patterns that Project Linus likes.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “HANDMADE”, AND WHY?
When we say “handmade” or “homemade” we mean something that is not commercially manufactured or purchased. Of course, home sewing machines, knitting machines, etc. are fine. It has always been the mission of Project Linus to donate only handmade blankets. We receive thousands of letters and thank you notes every year from children. Over and over they express how touched they are that a stranger would take the time to make something for them. They really know the difference. Purchased blankets are nice, but handmade blankets are from the heart. If you do not have the time or ability to hand craft a blanket, perhaps you would consider a monetary donation. Click here (www.projectlinus.org/donations) to go to the Project Linus Donation Page.