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Creative Good: Using Talents for Project Linus
Three years ago I found myself in a position to choose a new cause to volunteer for. To be honest, I was burned out on heavy, back breaking volunteer work, and desired to find something more relaxing. I researched the different organizations in our small town and nothing seemed to fit what I needed until I found the local chapter of Project Linus. I knew of Project Linus through newspaper articles and community events, but I had never thought about joining. I contacted the coordinator of the local chapter and she invited me to the next monthly meeting.
Project Linus is a non-profit organization that provides blankets to children who are ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need of love, comfort and warmth. The blankets are new, handmade and are created by volunteers known as “blanketeers.” In addition, Project Linus provides a fun service opportunity for individuals and communities to come together and be creative artists for the benefit of children.
Project Linus National Headquarters is located in Bloomington, Illinois. Local chapters are spread throughout all 50 states of the U.S.A. and are facilitated by coordinators, directors and officers. Blankets are collected locally and distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies or anywhere where a child needs to be shown kindness and love.
The first meeting I attended at our local chapter, the Oconee Regional Chapter of Project Linus, I was met with warm greetings and friendly smiles. From the start, I felt at ease and right at home with the members. Our chapter meets monthly to process blankets, socialize, have workshops and celebrate the chapter’s accomplishments. Attendance at the meetings are optional as blankets from shut-ins, other community groups and out of town residents are processed without the presence of the maker.
Blankets are required to be new and either handmade or have a handmade aspect. We have members of all levels, master quilters, beginning quilters, as well as many people who crochet and knit. The organization places considerable emphasis on creating blankets that would be attractive to a child. Child friendly colors and fabric are popular to use for quilts and afghans. The sizes of the blankets can range from the very small for the premature babies to full bed size for teenagers.
Our chapter does not require members to donate a specific number of blankets per year but does give incentives for members who make at least 12 blankets per year. I found once you start making blankets, you become addicted, and making 12 blankets per year is an easy goal for anyone to reach.
The Resulting Good
I have experienced the good these simple blankets can do. During my time as a volunteer, I have received several thank you notes from the families of children who were given a blanket that I made. The stories related through the thank you notes would bring anyone to tears. The children have experienced such tragic events as home fires, car wrecks and different illnesses, just to name a few. The families are so surprised and thankful that someone took the time to create an object that would bring much comfort during a frightening time. I treasure the thank you notes that I have received over the years.
My husband volunteers each year for United Hospice’s Camp Cocoon, which serves children who have lost a family member. My chapter has donated over 300 blankets to the camp so each child would have a special blanket of their own. The children are so grateful to have a beautiful addition to their beds and a lovely souvenir from the camp to take home.
I do not think that I have enjoyed any volunteer experience as much as I have Project Linus. I can sit on my couch in pajamas making a blanket and still feel as if I am doing good in this world. It is a volunteer opportunity that you can do in the comfort of your own home while spending time with your family. The once a month meeting is an immensely enjoyable experience that does not place considerable expense on time or money. I cannot recommend this worthy charity enough to anyone seeking a high quality volunteer experience. Please visit Project Linus for additional information and local chapter contacts.
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About the Author
Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.
Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore Catherine's professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.