SWPA’s Project Linus provides blankets to children in crisis | Helping the Helpers
Happiness really is a warm blanket. Meet the nonprofit working to make it a reality for Pa. kids
The Greater Pittsburgh Area and the Greene County chapters of Project Linus provide handmade blankets for children (Uniontown Herald-Standard photo)
By Karen Mansfield
WAYNESBURG, Pa. — “Peanuts” comic strip character Linus van Pelt, the security blanket-toting brother of Lucy, famously said, “Happiness is a warm blanket.”
Local Project Linus volunteers – called “blanketeers” – aim to spread happiness and ease children’s fear and loneliness, one blanket at a time.
The aptly named national nonprofit, with numerous chapters throughout the nation, provides new, handmade blankets, afghans, and quilts to children facing illness or trauma.
Local chapters include the Greene County Project Linus chapter and the Greater Pittsburgh area chapter, which serves four counties, including Washington County.
Since 1988, the Greater Pittsburgh area chapter has distributed more than 203,600 blankets to children in Washington County hospitals, agencies, police departments, funeral homes, women’s shelters, and other locations.
Lois Misko, coordinator of the Greater Pittsburgh area chapter, said she and her fellow blanketeers are delighted to provide so many children with blankets.
“We don’t get to see the kids, but we get feedback from the people who do distribute them, and they talk about how wonderful it is for them to give the blankets and how happy it makes the kids, and that’s huge,” said Misko. “And I’m so happy when I look around at all our volunteers and see the friendships that have been formed. I’m really proud that our chapter fulfills both those missions.”
The chapter has a space at Caste Village Shops, where it collects blankets from the four counties and prepares them for delivery.
Because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Misko said a skeleton crew is working there now, but the chapter plans to get back to a more normal schedule as soon as possible.
- IF YOU WANT TO HELP: For more information, contact Hardie at 412-913-6857 or email [email protected]. Or, visit the Project Linus website at projectlinus.org. For more information, visit the Pittsburgh Area Chapter website page at www.projectlinuspgh.org., or contact Misko at 412-913-7995.
COVID-19 has impacted the chapter, which accepts donations of money and materials to help their efforts.
“COVID hit us hard financially. A lot of our volunteers are older – they have the time and talent, but can’t purchase the blanket-making materials and supplies. But we’re having a harder time doing that now,” said Misko.
Blanketeers are invited to make blankets and drop them off in a sealed bag at any JoAnn Fabrics store.
For donations, checks should be made payable to Project Linus and mailed to Project Linus, c/o Lois Misko, 253 Ranger Dr., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15236.
The Greene County chapter, started in 2018 as a Waynesburg University service initiative, is three decades younger, but has made a big impact under the guidance of coordinator Kelley Hardie, Dean of Students at the university.
The chapter donates a majority of its blankets to the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, W.Va., and has also given blankets to the Angel Tree Ministry Project, Greene County Children and Youth Services, Greene County Catholic Charities, and other organizations.
The chapter receives donations weekly from university student volunteers, individuals, church groups, Girl Scout troops, schools, and other groups who have coordinated blanket-making projects.
The chapter has distributed more than 500 blankets since it began.
“I think I’m most proud of the fact this is a service project all ages can participate in. Young students, as young as first, second and third grade, to individuals in their 80s and 90s make blankets,” said Hardie. “It’s a universal service that all can participate in.”
Hardie said blanket donations are welcome, along with donations of money and materials, especially fleece.
The blankets can be dropped off at Waynesburg University’s Center for Service Leadership office in Room 102 of Stover Hall.
Karen Mansfield is a reporter for the Uniontown Herald-Standard. Readers may email her at [email protected]. Helping the Helpers is a cooperative effort between the Uniontown Herald-Standard and the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
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