Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Residents make quilts for sick children

Women discuss the number of blankets made in 2013. Photo by Rick Tobin.

Women discuss the number of blankets made in 2013. Photo by Rick Tobin.

On two separate occasions, February 16 and again on Saturday, people from two counties gathered at the home of Betty Wiggins, co-owner of Wiggins Sewing Center on Sniders Highway near Walterboro for the sole purpose of sewing together blankets for sick children.

Project Linus is a non-profit organization with the sole mission of “Providing Security Through Blankets,” for ill or traumatized children and teenagers. Inspired by a picture of a three-year-old cancer patient holding her security blanket, Project Linus first began in 1995 through the efforts of Karen Loucks. Nationally, Project Linus has donated more than 4,463,213 handmade blankets to help comfort children in need in hospitals, hospices, and shelters. Project Linus, named after the blanket-carrying character from the Peanuts comic strip, has 368 chapters within the United States.

The Lowcountry chapter relies on volunteerism and donations. Volunteers may donate time on their own by making blankets in their home or by coming to planned “Make a Blanket Days.” Volunteers are also needed to help at Make a Blanket Days by labeling and inspecting donated blankets, and helping to deliver blankets to organizations and hospitals.

On Saturday morning, several women from Colleton County and surrounding Lowcountry areas, some even as far away as Charleston, met at Betty’s residence to make more blankets. The volunteers included Rosemary Carpenter and Nora Williams, both of Charleston; Eunice Hippert; Mary Parkes; Frances Beach; Pat Richardson; Weezie Padgett, Carolyn Gaydon; Gail Cook; Lorraine Eady; Brenda Heap; Bessie Williams; Essie Tumbleston; Kathleen Barwick; and Gretchen Lincoln.

So far this year, over 50 blankets have been completed. All of the fabrics (150 yards) used were donated by Michelle Grau, who moved from Sun City near Hilton Head Island to Ohio. Over the past eight years, the local women have sewn 1,875 blankets.

The group has also been making dresses for orphans in Haiti in the wake of the 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the island. Tens of thousands of residents died and major damage occurred in residential areas. The local women have also made dresses for orphans in Belize. The effort was part of Haiti Under God (HUG) project formed by local resident Donald Lyons.

Donations of handmade blankets, fabric, gift cards to fabric stores, monetary donations, or tools and equipment for sewing may be made to Project Linus and are greatly appreciated. In addition to the costs of fabric to make close to 6,000 blankets each year, the organization has expenses such as postage, satin labels (which are required by our National Headquarters and placed on each and every blanket), paper hang tags, and paper labels.

On Christmas Eve in 1995, an article entitled “Joy to the World” appeared in the nationally-renowned Parade Magazine. It was written by Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist, Eddie Adams. Part of the article featured a petite, downy-haired child named Laura:

“Laura has unusual compassion for others, Charlotte Barry-Williams of Oceanside, California says of her daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1993. “I guess part of the reason is that she has experienced so much pain herself.”

A special “blanket” has helped Laura, three (years old), get through more than two years of intensive chemotherapy. She takes it to the hospital with her when she goes for treatment. When she was first diagnosed, 97 percent of her bone marrow contained cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy has helped eradicate the cancer, she has had to endure nausea, high fever, and the loss of her hair. An allergic reaction at one point caused her to lose vital signs.

“She doesn’t understand what her cancer means,” her mother says. “She’s a very joyous and happy person, very curious.” Her mother hopes Laura can start preschool next spring.

After reading the article, Karen Loucks decided to provide homemade security blankets to Denver’s Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born.