On Feb. 15, University of Maine students celebrated the last day of the annual Winter Carnival by participating in Project Linus’ National Make-A-Blanket Day. Students were provided with materials and made a combined total of 22 fleece-tie blankets to support the non-profit organization.
Project Linus’ mission is to provide “love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need” through the gift of handmade blankets, according to their website.
Lisa Morin, the coordinator for the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism, directed the event. She explained that while the week of Winter Carnival was being planned the center was looking for a service project to participate in. She soon realized that the final day of Winter Carnival was National Make-A-Blanket Day.
“We decided that this was just [meant] to be,” Morin said.
Participating students were given two large pieces of fleece, cutting materials and patterns to make the blankets. Each chapter of Project Linus shares what blankets they are in need of and provides directions on how to make them.
After putting together the fleece blankets, Morin brought them to the local area’s drop-off location for Project Linus, which is at Jo-Ann Fabric in Bangor. The blankets are sent directly to Project Linus who will distribute them to children in need.
Project Linus is a national organization that was started by Karen Loucks in 1995. Loucks decided to make security blankets for patients at Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center after reading a magazine article about a child named Laura that battled Leukemia. Laura carried her special “blankie” with her and believed that it helped her get through years of intensive chemotherapy. Loucks wanted to provide blankets for other children, and eventually the organization grew. Now there are chapters in all 50 states, according to their website.
“It’s a group that many people have heard of, so it’s really easy for [students] to understand what we are doing. When we say it’s Project Linus, [everyone knows] it is blankets and knows where they are going, so it is easier for people to come and help,” Morin shared.
Jessica Sargent, a first-year secondary education student at UMaine, participated in the blanket making. Sargent explained that participating in events like Project Linus are great ways to get involved and make a difference in the community.
“It was so much fun, and the best part is, [we all] knew it was for someone who needed [them],” she said.
Morin hopes to host this event again in the future.
“Discovering that this day, which is a national day, happens in February when we are usually scheduling Winter Carnival, sounds like something that we can connect in the future,” Morin said.
The Project Linus event took place in Hancock Hall, a space Morin said felt perfect as many students were just outside participating in a sledding event, also as a part of Winter Carnival, and came into the hall to participate and warm up from being out in the cold.
For more information about Project Linus, visit the organization’s website: projectlinus.org. There you can make a donation or find a local chapter to donate blankets, materials or your time.