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Shelby County event throws blanket over a cause

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Project Linus brings blanket-making to a community level. Sewers will help on Saturday.

By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

It may be cold outside this Saturday, but inside the Shelby County Cooperative Extension office it will be warm and inviting, as volunteers gather for Project Linus’ National Make a Blanket Day.

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The drop-in event, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is sponsored by the Shelby County chapter of Project Linus, which makes handmade blankets in Shelby, Henry, Oldham, Spencer and Anderson counties. Blankets are given to children and teens who experience illness or trauma, offering comfort and warmth.

Project Linus’ tagline: “Providing Security through Blanket,” and “Spreading Blanket Hugs Nationwide” describes its mission.

“Each of the four-hundred-plus chapters across the nation sponsor local events in mid-February to get their communities involved in blanket-making,” said Becky Jew, chapter coordinator in Shelby County. “Since 1995, Project Linus has given over five million handmade blankets to children, ages zero to eighteen, across the United States.”

This is the second year the local Project Linus chapter has participated in National Make a Blanket day. Becky hopes for a good turnout of volunteers and blanket-makers on Saturday.

“The Shelby County Cooperative Extension office is a drop-off site for people to leave their donated blankets throughout the year. When I approached them about hosting Make a Blanket Day, they said, ‘That would be great!’ I appreciate their enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to a great event Saturday.”

Jew has put a lot of miles and legwork into preparing for this year’s Make a Blanket Day.  She’s hand-delivered flyers telling about the event to Henry, Spencer, Oldham and Anderson counties. She has secured donations for door prizes and raffle items from businesses in Shelbyville and Shelby and Oldham counties. She has gathered fabric, batting and supplies to have on-hand for Saturday’s event, and she has talked it up wherever she has gone.

“Now we need ‘Blanketeers’ [volunteers who make blankets for Project Linus],” she said. “I have a wonderful volunteer in Taylorsville who knows a lot of people. She’s been spreading the word for Saturday, and she tells me she may get fifty people to show up. Of course, not everyone will come at the same time.

“The Extension Office helped to get the word out to their homemakers groups, both in Shelby County and across Kentucky. Knitters and crocheters are also encouraged to participate.”

One of the advantages of holding the blanket-making event at the extension office is that there are sewing machines on hand. Many sewers like to use their own machines, and they’re welcome to bring them Saturday.

“There is plenty of space to work,” Jew said. “I’ll have sections set up for no-sew blanket making, knitting and crocheting, as well as machine sewing.

“I’ll also have a small selection of supplies on hand, such as batting, fleece, and fabric scraps. But we really rely on people to donate or bring their own supplies.”

People may contact Becky Jew or consult the Project Linus Web site for a list of supplies.

“Blanket Day is a good opportunity for youth groups, Sunday school classes, book clubs and families to gather around a simple project that brings smiles and comfort to children. We have a need right now especially for baby blankets and teen blankets,” she said.

“My work depends on volunteers of all ages. I meet weekly with a group at Crescent Place who makes one blanket a week for us. They’ve been doing this for over a year. I’d like to work with more groups on a regular basis, like this.”

She said she hopes that good participation in Make a Blanket Day will raise up a pool of regular volunteers for the local chapter. “I’m really a ‘one-man band’ with this chapter,” Jew said. “It’s my passion. My goal is to build an active volunteer base of people enjoy this program, too, not just in Shelby county, but in the other counties within this chapter’s area.

“We make and accept blanket donations throughout the year. There are always children who need a blanket-hug. If people can’t make Saturday’s event, they may donate blankets or blanket-making supplies at any time at the Shelby County Cooperative Extension Office or at the Henry County Public Library.”

In case of inclement weather this weekend, a follow-up Make a Blanket Day will be conducted at the same location on Feb. 15.

Project Linus Make a Blanket Day

WHAT: Community blanket-making event

WHEN: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (drop in), Saturday

WHERE: Shelby County Cooperative Extension Office, 1117 Frankfort Road, Shelbyville

COST: Free, please bring blanket-making supplies

MORE INFO: Contact Becky Jew at 502-727-4116 or mariansheart@yahoo.com or visit www.projectlinus.org

FYI: If bad weather, same time Feb. 15