By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(March 15, 2018) Since 1995, Project Linus has made and distributed almost seven million blankets to children in need.
The nonprofit organization, named for the blanket-clutching character in Peanuts cartoons, movies and comic strips, has more than 300 chapters in 50 states.
Locally, the Lower Delmarva chapter is sponsored by Salem United Methodist Church in Pocomoke City. Its members, numbering about 100, have made and donated more than 10,000 blankets since it was chartered in 2002.
Members, sometimes close to a dozen at once, meet regularly to work at The Pincushion fabric store in Pocomoke. Others drop off or mail blankets from locations from as far away as Milford, Delaware and Nassawadox, Virginia.
Donna Clarke coordinates the chapter.
“What we do is we make handmade blankets of all sorts and we get them to kids in hospitals, we take them to CASA [court appointed special advocates] and we take them to a couple places on the shore where children are evaluated after they’ve had a sexual assault or some other sort of physical trauma,” Clarke said.
Among its distribution points are the Cricket Center in Berlin, six area hospitals, and foster homes in Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset and Dorchester counties.
Barb Mroczka, a Connecticut native, has worked with Project Linus for about five years. She was a foster mom in her home state and “had a lot of kids with Linus blankets” stay with her.
“Sometimes they would come to me with nothing more than a T-shirt, dirty diaper and a Linus blanket,” she said. “I would always be so grateful that at least they came wrapped in that. It was just one of those transitions [when she moved to Maryland] that you had to get into it.
“It’s an amazing way to give back and know that it’s staying local, know that it’s benefiting our kids right here,” Mroczka added. “Every lady here [at Pincushion] makes Linus and they’re all very, very generous. It’s an amazing group.”
Clarke said the motivation is simple: it’s all for the kids.
“We’re all mothers. Some of us are grandmothers. We’ve had various things where some of our kids have been hospitalized – or worse,” she said.
On several occasions, the group has pushed production during regional or national crises. Clarke said the chapter “really stepped up” when Hurricane Sandy devastated nearby Crisfield.
“We managed to get 605 blankets to the elementary school in Crisfield so that every child could have one, because they were all affected by the storm,” Clarke said. “Whether their house was intact or not, their grandmothers or their babysitters or their best friends’ houses were ruined.
“The kids were really impacted, so it was amazing to see the reaction from the kids and the teachers, and some of the parents that wrote to us,” she added.
Last year, donations were sent to Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and to St. Thomas after Hurricane Irma.
Every now and then, members of Project Linus hear from the people they help. Mroczka recently received a thank-you note and photos from a family in Crisfield.
“[The blanket] went to a little girl and the father wrote and said she had to go to Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, and she took the blanket with her that I had made,” Mroczka said. “You don’t often get thank-yous – it’s not expected – but when you do it’s really, really special.”
Clarke said the group is always looking for new volunteers and for donations of new yarn and fabric, gift certificates to fabric and craft stores, or cash donations. Store-bought blankets will not be accepted.
“It has to be hand-made,” Mroczka said. “It can be crocheted, it can be fleece, or it can be a quilt as long as it’s made by hand, because it’s got to feel love in it.”
For more information, contact Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 410-713-9321 or 410-957-3261, or visit www.facebook.com/ProjectLinusOfLowerDelmarva or www.projectlinus.org.