Project Linus: Student-run organization makes blankets for sick, traumatized kids

Academy of the Canyons students Alexandra Asi, 17, left, and Josephine Kim, 18, fold one of their completed blankets as they participate in the annual Project Linus, Make a Blanket Day event held at College of the Canyons on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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As she sat in the neonatal intensive care unit and worried about her child who was born barely breathing and riddled with pneumonia, Sharon Garver said she was given a small amount of comfort because of the blanket around him.

That blanket was made by the Los Angeles Chapter of Project Linus, a nonprofit that creates blankets for critically sick and/or traumatized kids in hospitals or medical centers. And while it was only pieces of fabric knitted or tied together, to her it meant more than almost anything.

“I have to leave the hospital with my child there, and he has this blanket from someone else comforting him,” said Garver, now a teacher at Academy of the Canyons. “It’s comforting me from a stranger … it’s hope from a stranger.”

Academy of the Canyons students Claire Miller, 15, left, and Giorgio Simoncioni, 15, work on a Star Wars blankets as they participate in the annual Project Linus, Make a Blanket Day event held at College of the Canyons on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Taking that experience, Garver then decided to give back to the world what she had received, and decided to start a club (which would eventually become a class) that focuses on nonprofit work, particularly Project Linus.

However, instead of running it herself and working with corporations and using the kids to help her simply make the blankets, Garver wanted to show students what she had been shown; she wanted them to learn about what it means to not be given the glory, but to know that you yourself were there to help.

Over this past weekend, Garver’s students hosted, “Make a Blanket Day,” a student-organized event for SCV Project Linus that led to more than 300 blankets being made and shipped out to organizations such as the Michael Hoefflin Foundation, the Department of Child and Family Services and local NICUs.

Walking into the COC East Gym over the weekend, volunteers were greeted by the sounds of music playing over loudspeakers and the sights of kids hunkered over their unique fabrics, creating hundreds of blankets.

The Make a Blanket event is held twice a year now on COC’s campus, and the entirely volunteer-based workforce creates comforting blankets attached to a piece of paper with a poem on it that are all designed to give hope to people in need.

Academy of the Canyons student Aidan (cq) Odel, 17, folds some of the hundreds of finished blankets during the annual Project Linus, Make a Blanket Day event held at College of the Canyons on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

For some of the students present, and even running the event, Project Linus meant more than an opportunity to volunteer; it meant a chance to pass it on.

“In eighth grade in my middle school, they had a club. After the summer of seventh grade, I broke my leg in three places,” said Kawira Karuja, one of the two event coordinators for Make a Blanket Day. “And after I came out of surgery, they gave me a blanket and they told me it was from Project Linus.”

More than 300 blankets were made on Saturday, loaded into vehicles and sent off to an organization serving children.

“It feels really good to help out,” said Ayden Odel, one of the event coordinators for Make a Blanket. “It’s for the children, and it’s different because it’s all run by students. I think it shows to the public that it’s less corporate and more community-run.”

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