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21Country: Comfort and kindness spread through Project Linus blankets

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NORTHEAST INDIANA (WPTA21) - Over nearly 17 years, the local Project Linus chapter has supplied over 50,000 blankets to kids at hospitals and various agencies across the region.

The charity’s name comes from the iconic Peanuts character, whose blanket rarely leaves his side.

The idea is that kids experience tough times, will find comfort from the kind act.

Joyce Pickett leads the operations, making sure each donation meets her standards, before being delivered to children between infancy and eighteen years old.

Her sister founded the northeast Indiana chapter in 2004, but Pickett quickly became as passionate when she directly saw their impact.

“My first interaction was on the make a blanket day. We went there to local hospitals and delivered them to the children, and I was hooked,” Pickett told us, “That’s all it took to me was to see the looks on the kids faces… and I’ve been making blankets ever since.”

She took over in 2015, when she retired, and says Project Linus is a great way to become part of a community, and hone your craft.

“It’s a great outlet, especially people that like to quilt,” Pickett said, “and they’ve given all the quilts to their family and friends and neighbors, this is a place they can quilt to their hearts content, and they will always be used.”

For the time being, the inside of Project Linus’ building on Stellhorn Road, is packed with blankets, and materials like yarn, fabric, string, and thread.

Almost everything is donated, including the building.

“This building was donated by Hupe Insurance, free of charge!” Pickett told us, “they’re extremely supportive of our actions and what we do, and it makes a big difference we’ve had and the support.”

The chapter coordinator doesn’t even know all of the members that contribute through the year.

Many donations come from drop-off sites across Allen County.

Melinda Coy started making blankets for the organization after she retired in 2017.

“I dearly love to sew and my grandchildren all have blankets,” she explained, “you can only make so many and have so many at home, this is such a great outlet for making blankets to bring joy.”

Volunteer Deb Heath has been making blankets for Project Linus nearly the entire time its been in the area.

She recently started keeping track of just how many she makes or finishes a year.

It’s around a hundred.

Her, and other volunteers rarely get to see children’s faces when they receive a blanket of their own in the hospital.

But families write ‘thank-you’s’ to let them know how grateful they are.

“We get blessed immensely by hearing the stories of people who receive blankets,” she said, “it’s just not the recipient that gets blessed. The giver gets blessed and that’s really important.”

Adoption Day at the Allen County Courthouse is a very special event for members.

There, they get to interact with recipients, and hand out their work for a joyous occasion.

But that isn’t always how families learn about Project Linus.

Robb Wilson’s son broke his arm a few years ago.

It was bad enough to require a cast and surgery.

Wilson says that his son’s Project Linus blanket consoled the boy during the procedure.

“It was something that was nice enough for them to do while we were going through a tough time,” he said, “it’s just a blanket, but for my son that day it was more than that.”

Wilson was so touched, he started donating tags to Project Linus through his print shop Inkworks.

If you’d like to be involved with Project Linus, you can find information on blanket requirements, drop-off sites, how to donate money or supplies, and more, on their website.

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Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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