Project Linus spreads warmth, security
The group that makes quilts for children in hospitals is conducting a show on Saturday.
Portland Press Herald, Emma Bouthillette
March 24, 2010
Just as Linus from "The Peanuts" comic strip dragged around a tattered blue blanket, every child finds comfort and security in the warmth of a blanket.
With eight chapters of the national Project Linus in Maine, "blanketeers" are working to provide seriously ill or traumatized children with blankets of their own. A new coordinator for Cumberland County, Melodie Provost, is working to breathe new life into the group, having collected 821 blankets since she stepped into the position in September.
"It's great fun," she said, and a great service opportunity.
Part of that fun will be a blanket show 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Scarborough to let people learn about Project Linus.
Provost learned about Project Linus a few years back and got involved as a blanketeer. As a quilter, she said there were only so many things she could make for her own use and this was a good outlet to continue her craft.
Margaret Gunn, owner of Mainely Quilts of Love, echoed Provost's thoughts.
"I just wanted to get rid of extra fabric," she said, making a quilt out of scraps she had. "Then I caught the bug."
In three years of volunteering as a "blanketeer," Gunn has made more than 100 quilts.
When Provost saw the lull in leadership for the Cumberland County chapter, she took charge. In addition to collecting blankets, she has been spreading the word about the organization. Throughout February, she had a number of volunteers hosting "Blanket Days" for people to work on blankets to donate, and she has organized Saturday's blanket show with quilts on display, local vendors and a yard sale.
The show also an attempt to raise some money for the chapter's office operations and to buy supplies for "Blanket Days," Provost said. Without national funding, she said most of the blankets are made from supplies purchased by volunteers. Raising some money would allow Provost to purchase fabric for volunteers to use.
Provost said she has also invited some of the area recipients of the blankets to share stories about children who have received a blanket. Some recipients include the Center for Grieving Children, Barbara Bush Children's Center at Maine Medical, Maine Medical Center's neo-natal unit and pediatric intensive care, the Children's Cancer Program, The Root Cellar, Crossroads for Women and Spring Harbor Hospital.
Jean Canavan, a nurse at Spring Harbor, has seen first hand how these blankets bring comfort to ill or traumatized children.
"These kids are just blown away that they're allowed to choose from a number of quilts," she said, adding they take very good care of them no matter what the circumstance they are in.
She said the blankets brighten up the children's unit at the hospital and provide comfort to the children. During movie nights, she said they all wrap up in their blankets in the television room and settle in.
"They're very surprised to actually be able to own these," Canavan said. "It helps a lot. Then they know there's somebody they don't even know who's put so much work into something. That makes a child feel better. That stays with them."
Gunn, a mother of three, said if any of her children were ever in a critical condition she would also be comforted to know someone out there cared.
"Part of the organization, it's not only to supply blankets and a sense of security, warmth and comfort, but provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals," Provost said.
Hopefully Saturday's show will become an annual event, Provost said, raising awareness for Project Linus.
"Once word gets out, people will be cognizant of what's going on," she said, adding she hopes one day to expand donations to not only hospitals and care centers, but organizations with children in coping with other critical situations.
THE QUILT & BLANKET Show is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Scarborough. Quilts and blankets made by "blanketeers" will be on display and attendees can vote for their favorites for $1 per vote. The yard sale will include an array of books, patterns, magazines, fabrics and other supplies to raise money for the Cumberland County chapter of Project Linus.
DROP-OFF locations for completed blankets include Cotton Weeds Quilt Shop in Freeport, Calico Basket Quilt Shop in North Windham, Central Yarn Shop in Portland, The Korner Knitters in Sebago, A.C. Moore in South Portland and Rosemary's Gift & Yarn Shop in Windham. Blankets of all sizes will be accepted, but must be made of washable material and from a smoke-free and pet-free environment.
FOR DETAILS,call Melodie Provost at 284-5606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.