SYMBOL OF HOPE- Angie Garcia shows some of the blankets she has collected for Project Linus – an initiative that distributes handmade blankets to children in need.

Local woman seeks support for ‘Project Linus’

Angie Garcia was inspired to help after enduring her own heartache

A local woman, who has gained strength from her own personal story, is looking to give back to the community via Project Linus.

Angie Garcia found herself in a women’s shelter in Saskatoon with her son in 2010. Once they left the shelter, one of the only things they had was a blanket that was given to them during their stay. The blanket symbolized hope and a new start.

“We got to our place and we hung the blanket up on the wall. It was our starting point,” said Garcia. “I liked patch-work blankets like the one that was given to us and I do sew, so I decided to make some more for our new place. I put some on the walls, gave some to family.

“I finally looked at the tag on the original blanket after a few months and it said ‘Made with tender love and care for Project Linus’. I wondered what that was and looked it up online and found some information. I love making blankets and I’m on disability myself and I thought while I’m sitting at home on the good days, I can sew.”

Project Linus makes, collects and distributes handmade blankets, made with love to give to children in crisis. This includes children who are ill, with HIV, cancer or in a crisis shelter or foster home. Officials don’t limit their giving to children in crisis. The list expands daily.

The organization first began in 1995 after an article was written in Parade Magazine on a young girl undergoing chemotherapy in the United States. She was given a blanket during her treatment. In the article she explained how the blanket gave her strength. Karen Loucks-Baker read the young girl’s story and began making blankets and donating them to the Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center in Denver. Project Linus was born.

It was named for the Peanuts character Linus who carries around his security blankee.

Since its inception, Project Linus has given away four million blankets to children in need. Project Linus chapters are all over Canada and the United States.

Garcia is asking individuals, local groups and associations for help.

“We are in need of blankets to give to children in crisis. Without the help of people like you Project Linus could not be successful. We are giving security and love — one blanket at a time.”

The blankets must be handmade and washable. They can range from baby blankets to ones for children and teens and can come in a variety of styles including quilts, tied comforters, fleece blankets, crocheted or knitted Afghans and receiving blankets.

“We serve children from infant all the way to 18-years-old,” said Garcia. “We are also in need of fabric, materials such as thread and fill. Anything anyone could contribute would be appreciated.

“The blankets don’t have to be perfect. It’s just something to give to a child that they can call their own.”

The Red Deer Chapter is holding its first annual fundraiser on Dec. 21. A group will be caroling in the Bower area of Red Deer.

The group will meet at the fireplace at the food court in Bower Place Shopping Centre at 6 p.m. and will leave to begin caroling at 6:30 p.m. Anyone is welcome to join.

Garcia said she feels the need to help others through Project Linus because she has gone through hard times herself.

“I didn’t have a great childhood either and something that would have brought me security would have made a great difference. I think for a lot of children they don’t need the grandeur, they just need something they can call their own,” she said. “For children who are sick it’s something that shows them that someone cares and that there are more people out there that care, not just their family.”

Garcia continues to look for new ‘blanketeers’ and people willing to donate supplies for blankets or make a cash donation (receipts are available).

For more information visit http://projectlinus.yolasite.com or email projectlinusrd@gmail.com.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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