Imagine: a child is hospitalized, ill, and afraid. A new thought: a child sits in a homeless shelter, with only the clothes on his back. A third image: a child huddles with her mother at a safe home for those affected by domestic abuse. These are all grim pictures, and there are times when it’s easy to despair about the state of the world. Thankfully, knitters have their talented hands that can make items to comfort these children. Project Linus is perhaps the most famous knitting charity of them all, and after twenty years is still going strong.
Founder Karen Loucks was inspired to knit blankets for children fighting cancer in 2005. Today, the group she started is now a national organization, with chapters in all fifty of the United States. Different groups may be known by chapter names as well, but all Project Linus groups focus on providing comfort for children aged 0-18. Volunteers may knit, crochet, quilt, or sew blankets; in addition, caps are accepted for premature and other babies with medical needs.
To become involved, one must simply create a machine-washable, easy care blanket that has not been soiled with pet dander, cigarette smoke, or other contaminants. Cotton and acrylic materials should be used; all sizes are sought, from receiving blankets that are 36 by 36 inches to twin size coverlets for teenagers. Colors should be child or teen-friendly. In addition to homemade blankets and caps, one can also donate gift certificates for crafting supplies or make a cash donation directly to Project Linus.
Individual chapters also sponsor “Make A Blanket” days, where volunteers get together to create blankets in a communal setting. These events offer socialization and fellowship for crafters, as well as the satisfaction of knowing that the work done will go to a good cause. Dates for these events can be found on the web sites of individual chapters. Those with more time can also volunteer to become chapter coordinators, who put together events and organize the transfer of finished items to hospitals and shelters.
Those interested in becoming a ‘blanketeer” will find patterns on the Project Linus website, as well as links to individual chapters (finished projects should be brought or mailed to the chapters rather than to national headquarters.) Many of these patterns use bulky yarn and can be created quickly. Because the emphasis is on easy care, this is a great charity for those who love to knit but can’t afford to buy pricey yarn – there are many great acrylic brands available at very reasonable cost.
Knitters are givers, and Project Linus is a testament to that spirit. Getting involved is easy, and volunteers will experience the satisfaction of knowing that their hands have given comfort to those who will grow up to pass the gift on. Get out your needles!