Even when it’s cold outside, five ladies at the Hearthstone Place independent living centre in Lloydminster manage to bring plenty of warmth.
Since the beginning of the year, the five women have handmade 28 blankets for Project Linus’ Lloydminster chapter. The organization, which relies solely on volunteer “blanketeers”, delivers security blankets to kids 18 and under that are going through a traumatic time in their lives.
“So many babies get attached to their blankets and when you have your blanket, it’s kind of like a safe haven, said Janet Gatzke, a life enrichment manager at Dr. Hemstock and Hearthstone Place that introduced the project to the ladies. “It’s cuddly, it’s warm, it’s kind of a hug without a hug.”
Project Linus is named after Linus van Pelt, the cartoon character from the Charlie Brown series that often sucked his thumb while clenching his security blanket.
The organization formed in the United States in 1995 after its eventual founder came across the story of a three-year-old girl that had become emotionally attached to a special “blankie” during chemotherapy sessions.
The Lloydminster chapter established about a year later and is now one of 44 across Canada.
“I think it’s just a wonderful organization,” Gatzke said. “To have it be 100 per cent volunteer, to have the (Hearthstone) ladies donate their time and their effort, it’s remarkable.”
Unlike hospital blankets that remain in the building once a patient is discharged, blankets from Project Linus are given to children to keep. Locally, Project Linus has delivered security blankets to kids going through all sorts of hardships, from illnesses to family deaths.
See “Project Linus,” Page 4
“Even if your own child has gone through something traumatic or you know a child going through chemotherapy, or even if he’s getting his tonsils out in the hospital, a fire, an accident where they need a blanket, you can call and they will definitely deliver a blanket,” Gatzke said.
Each afghan comes tagged with a picture of Linus sucking his thumb while holding his security blanket, and reads “Made with Tender Loving Care for Project Linus.” They also arrive with a card that contains the name of the blanketeer, which is the term the organization uses to refer to its blanket-makers.
Afghans may be knit, crocheted or sewn and the organization lists guidelines on its website for those interested in making and donating blankets.