The emergency room doctor chased Judith Detert-Moriarty down the hall as she left Mercy Hospital in Janesville., Wis.
Project Linus helps give kids warm and fuzzy support
"Are you the blanket lady?" he asked.
The doctor told her about the calming effect blankets from the Janesville/Rock Valley Chapter of Project Linus have on young patients in the ER, how they help him meet the kids' medical needs.
"I love the feedback and seeing the joy in people's eyes," she said.
Since Detert-Moriarty founded the local Project Linus chapter in 2000, more than 6,000 children in Rock, Green, Jefferson and Walworth counties have received new, handmade blankets for comfort, warmth and security in times of distress and trauma. The blankets are distributed by 28 facilities and organizations.
"All the blankets stay within the region where they are made. We've only sent blankets elsewhere a couple timesonce after 9/11 and once after Hurricane Katrina. Both of these efforts were organized at
Project Linus headquarters with all chapters nationwide working together," she said.
This winter, Project Linus has seen a dramatic increase in blanket demand. So Detert-Moriarty is asking for the public's help.
"If you can sew, quilt, knit or crochet a new blanket for a childbirth to 18 years oldin need, or donate materials for a blanketeer, Project Linus would welcome the donation of your time and skills," she said.
Volunteer blanket makers can buy materials or inquire about donated materials. They can work at their own pace, Detert-Moriarty said.
To make helping even easier, Detert-Moriarty has established drop-off sites for completed blankets, and she hopes to eventually add more drop-off sites.
Victoria Schiro, a pediatric registered nurse at Mercy Hospital, sees a greater demand for blankets in the winter, when more infants and children are hospitalized with respiratory viruses and infections. Project Linus is the only group that gives the hospital blankets that provide a sense of security for its young patients, she said.
"It's a positive thing to take from not such a positive experience," she said.
Jeanie Gregersen, administrative assistant with grief services at HospiceCare, also knows the value of homemade blankets for children who attend support groups.
"It's a tangible item they can embrace and associate with a comfort that is a reminder of the love they'd been getting from their loved one," she said.
Ron DelCiello, director of House of Mercy Homeless Center, said Project Linus lives up to its name, which is drawn from the Peanuts comic strip character Linus, Charlie Brown's blanket-toting best friend.
"Every so often we'll see a little kid walking around carrying a blanket," DelCiello said. "We let them take them when they leave because it serves as something stable that is theirs they can hold and makes a big difference for them."
Have an idea for an Outlier? Contact us at [email protected]
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.