Flexible Volunteer Opportunity Warms Hearts

Ever shrink away from volunteering because you cringe at the thought of committee meetings?  Have an unpredictable, demanding schedule?  Don't get out much?   A growing East Tennessee group draws in volunteers who want to make a difference at their own pace, on their own time.  Project Linus draws on the talents of everyone from experienced quilters and knitters to those looking for a hands-on group project.  
Pat Hess, Barbara Sage, Beverly Abele, Coordinator Deb Miller, Anna Ridings, Annhara Henderson
East Tennessee Project Linus Blanketeers
"That was the thing that attracted me when I first got involved as a volunteer was I didn't have to go to another meeting." Coordinator Deb Miller continued, "I could work on an afghan whenever I wanted to work on it.  If I had 15 minutes to sit down and work on it I could do that. If I had a whole weekend to sit down, I could do that. It was very flexible and so it really met my needs.  And then as my husband got sicker, I was able to be with him and still be doing things.  I've been talking to a lot of women who have been through that experience:  Finding that while they were still dealing with family caretaking and those kinds of things, Project Linus gave them a way to  also continue to be able to give back."  Miller said those who've lost their husband, as she did, often feel a tremendous need to give back to their communities.

Annhara Henderson found that she simply needed another outlet for sharing her creativity.  "I had made a blanket, I think, for everybody I knew....so then we decided to give to Project Linus. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet people who are creative and compassionate." The well-established network gets the blanket "hugs" to children and teens who are hurting from serious illness, abuse or other traumatic life events.

Miller said that although around 100 of her regular blanketeers don't connect via the internet, many others do.  Email and social networking have helped the charity run more efficiently, and perhaps reflects the addition of younger participants. "The interesting thing is we're starting to get younger and younger people involved. People are getting back into the crafts and the making the baby afghans and those kinds of things.  Were' starting to get more young people and more working women involved in Project Linus."

The largest ever one-day event for East Tennessee's Project Linus is happening Saturday, October 13th at the historic Alex Haley Farm in coordination with the Children's Defense Fund. The Blanket Bee is scheduled from 10 am to 4 pm, with free demonstrations on blanket making ranging from simple to sophisticated. If you're looking for a constructive activity for your homeschool co-op, church or community group, this might be the place for leaders to learn and take back ideas. Adults will have the chance to do hands-on work the day of the Blanket Bee. Local media outlets will find this to be a very visual, easy-to-cover event.

You can learn more about the national Project Linus organization at this link to connect with a group in your area.

*Although all clean, new blankets are accepted, the East Tennessee chapter has some specific suggestions and guidelines for sizes of blankets.  They tend to need larger blankets for teens in crisis.  They are not able to use the double-layered, hand-knotted, no-sew fleece blankets that are so popular with some groups.  Cotton or cotton blend fabrics in cheerful bright or pastel colors are most useful, as well as various colors of yarn.