When most people think of a blanket they think of something to keep them warm at night. But that is not necessarily the case for New Market resident Carol Chambers and the volunteers who work for the Adams, Brown and Highland counties chapter of Project Linus. They make blankets to help kids feel safe and secure.
The group recently donated 130 blankets to KAMP Dovetail, the summer camp for children with special needs that will be held for the 36th year June 19-23 at Rocky Fork State Park.
“Every year they give us 100 or more blankets and they’ve been doing it for probably at least 10 years; and they’re beautiful,” said Linda Allen, executive director of SATH (Supplemental Assistance to the Handicapped), the organization that operates KAMP Dovetail. “They’re perfect for the kids and they’re really nice.”
Chambers got involved with Project Linus about 10 years ago through the Sardinia Church of Christ.
“Each year the ladies group chooses an organization to sponsor and one year it was Project Linus,” said Chambers, explaining that she that she knits, crochets, sews and has even taught crafts from her home. “They explained what it was and I decided it would be a good outlet for me and my crafts. I can’t sit still and watch TV. I have to have my hands busy and it was a good project to get involved with, and a good mission.
“We help children who are critically ill, have been taken away from their families, have been through natural disasters, and others. The blanket is their’s to keep and hold on to.”
On Christmas Eve 1995, an article titled “Joy to the World” appeared in Parade Magazine. It was written by Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist, Eddie Adams. Part of the article featured a petite, downy-haired child named Laura.
“Laura has unusual compassion for others,” Charlotte Barry-Williams of Oceanside, Calif. said of her daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1993. “I guess part of the reason is that she has experienced so much pain herself. A special ‘blankie’ has helped Laura, 3, get through more than two years of intensive chemotherapy. She takes it to the hospital with her when she goes for treatment. When she was first diagnosed, 97 percent of her bone marrow contained cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy has helped eradicate the cancer, she has had to endure nausea, high fevers and the loss of her hair. An allergic reaction at one point caused her to lose vital signs,” the story said, according to the Project Linus website. “She doesn’t understand what cancer means. She’s a very joyous and happy person, very curious.”
After reading the article, Karen Loucks decided to provide homemade security blankets to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born.
Today, there are Project Linus chapters in all 50 states. Chambers has been the coordinator for about three years of a chapter that covers Highland, Adams and Brown counties.
She said the chapter gives blankets to local fire and police departments, plus places like hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, or anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug.
“We don’t make them for warmth, we make them for comfort,” Chambers said. “We want the kids to get wrapped up in them and if they happen to get warm, that’s a by-product.”
Chambers said her group of approximately a dozen volunteers meets at her home twice a year, usually in March and October. In addition to blankets, they also make hats for newborns. All the blankets and hats have to be 100 percent cotton, new, washable and handmade.
“You just can’t buy blankets and donate them. You have to do something to it to make it more personable,” Chambers said.
The group accepts financial donations and is looking for more volunteers. Anyone interested can contact Chambers at 937-927-5455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Funds can also be donated through the Kroger Community Rewards program.
“Someone asked me how many blankets do they have to make?” Chambers said. “I told them however many you want. It all depends on what they can afford and have time for.”
Chambers said the blankets can be used as a pillow, tent, long dress, sleep bag, or just something to hold for comfort. They all come with a Project Linus trademark sewn on them.
“When you say you give a blanket, that doesn’t sound like much,” Chambers said. “But you’re not just giving a blanket – you’re giving a child imagination. It’s a gift of love from somebody they don’t even know. There’s a blanket for every a child and a child for every blanket.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.