Project Linus distributes handmade blankets to children in need. The Endless Skein is proud to be a drop-off point for finished blankets for our local chapter of this nationwide nonprofit organization.
Liza Koenig is one of our Project Linus chapter leaders. She spoke with us recently about the organization and the meaningful work they do.
How did Project Linus get started? (And did Charles Schulz have to greenlight the name?)
In 1995, after reading an article about how a special blanket helped a child through chemotherapy, Karen Loucks decided to provide new handmade security blankets to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born. Charles Schulz was aware of the organization and gave it his blessing, allowing them to use the Linus name and image.
What is the mission of the organization?
From the projectlinus.org official website:
FIRST Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.”
SECOND Provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.
How did you get involved in Project Linus?
I learned to knit and crochet and made blankets for family and friends and didn’t want to stop once I had finished a few projects. A friend of mine and I found Project Linus online, and realized there was no coverage in our county. We applied to cover Dutchess County, and eventually expanded to Putnam. When she left, Joan and I continued to run the chapter, distributing blankets throughout the area. Since 2009, we have distributed more than 5,000 blankets.
What has surprised you about your work with Project Linus?
I’m surprised by how giving the community is. We have received blankets, yarn, fabric, and monetary donations from so many different sources. I am especially touched when school groups and teenagers contribute their time. The idea of kids giving back to kids is just beautiful to me.
How has the organization changed over the years?
It has grown tremendously since it started, both with distribution by smaller chapters throughout the country, and also donating to larger organizations, with local chapters donating to the Snowball Express and other child-centered national events. We also send blankets to help with disaster relief wherever it might be needed.
Do you (or others at Project Linus) ever hear back from families/children who have received blankets?
Not often, but parents have told us that they appreciate getting blankets when their children are in the hospital as it adds a homey, comforting touch to what can be a stressful situation. In addition, the kids get so attached to the blankets that one college student who received hers in NICU told her mom not to give away her Project Linus blanket when she was downsizing. The national office will also often post letters they have received from families on their web and Facebook pages.
How can people help (crafters and non-crafters)?
Make blankets -- if you can’t knit, crochet, or quilt, we accept no-sew fleece blankets (lots of links online, or contact me for ideas). We accept donations of yarn (machine wash and dry only), fabric (also machine wash and dry), batting, gift cards, or money. We have to raise a certain amount per year to keep our chapter going, and the Project Linus website makes it easy to donate by designating our chapter on their donation site (projectlinus.org).
What are the guidelines for the blankets?
They must be made from materials that can be machine washed or dried at higher temperatures. They should come from smoke-free environments and be free of pet hair or other contaminants. We prefer them to be 30” x 30” up to about 50”x60.” Other sizes are accepted; we try to find homes for everything we receive. Please no lacy designs that small fingers and toes can get caught in.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We really appreciate all of our donors. Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself to be a master crafter. Project Linus is a good place to try out that pattern you’ve been looking at! And above all, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!