Blanketeers Handcraft Hugs for Hurting Children

Deb Miller said it was a rare treat when a family stopped her in a store parking lot after seeing the logo on her vehicle.  A father rolled down the window of his car to let her meet the little boy who'd been toting along a special blanket for two years since he'd first been in the hospital.  A rare moment, indeed, for a woman devoted to helping children she was never supposed to meet.  "It doesn't take many like that to keep you going," commented Miller.

Miller leads the East Tennessee chapter of Project Linus, whose tag line is "providing security through blankets." Volunteers make and distribute at least 2,000 blankets each year to children who are seriously ill or traumatized.  Some volunteers connect directly with Project Linus, while others complete one-time projects via their church or community groups and later donate them to the larger effort.

Peanuts comic creator Charles Shultz was honored to gift the use of his beloved Linus character for use with the national nonprofit group.  The little boy who was never seen without his blanket symbolizes the security one can provide.  "They call them blanket hugs, is what you're giving kids," shared Beverly Abele. "Everybody loves kids.  So, if you can help in some small way like that it gives you some satisfaction even though you almost never know who gets your blanket."  Abele regularly hosts a small group of friends who gather in her home to knit and make other projects to donate.

Volunteers deliver Project Linus blankets to hospitals, birth centers, women and children's shelters, even families who've lost a loved one in the military.  "Those are the toughest blankets to deliver," said Miller, sharing that she'd known a local family that lost a soldier.  The blankets go to children from birth to age 18, coming in red, white and blue for veterans' children and every cheery color you could imagine for babies.  A wide variety of handcrafted styles employ a labor of love from knitters, quilters, and even those who sew very little.
Coordinator Deb Miller Knits an Afghan
Project Linus of East Tennessee
The well-established group will be hosting its biggest single event to date on Saturday, October 13 at the historic Alex Haley farm in Clinton, Tennessee.  In partnership with the Children's Defense Fund, Project Linus volunteers will host its first Blanket Bee from 10 am to 4 pm.  Master quilters will showcase their work, crafters will demonstrate no-sew quilt square creations, and visitors can learn a variety of blanket-making techniques.  Organizers say the event is for both experienced crafters interested in making blankets for Project Linus and for other adults and older teens who want to learn more.  The nonprofit can always use help with administrative duties, postage costs, cotton fabric donations and more besides the hands-on blanket work.  You can learn more details and register here at the East Tennessee Project Linus website.

Tomorrow:  why Project Linus is such a good fit for many volunteers