By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Students from the Academy of the Canyons are taking it upon themselves to ease the fear and loneliness of children one blanket at a time through Project Linus.
Project Linus, a national nonprofit with numerous chapters throughout the nation, including the Santa Clarita Valley, provide comfort to children facing adverse trauma, as well as families in need of extra warmth. AOC students help run the local charter, which includes the Antelope Valley and Sylmar.
“I when I was little, I was very sick,” said Mason Ticas, senior and president of the AOC Project Linus group. “I was in the hospital, and although my family was there, I remember feeling sad when I was on my own. My 5-year-old self would have really enjoyed a security blanket, so I felt that this was a great opportunity to help other people the way I wanted help when I was little.”
The students host and organize a Make a Blanket Day twice a year — an event in which they invite members of the community to crochet blankets for children. The group hosted a drive-thru version of their usual event Saturday.
Students asked community members to make their blankets at home and then drop them off at their location for distribution, said Galilea Ruiz, a senior and event co-chairperson.
“It’s great and I love it,” Ruiz said. “It’s a great time. At the end of the day, you fill up a giant U-Haul with like a bunch of blankets that go out to people in the city and your neighborhood.”
Alexandria Welch, a student at West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, heard about Project Linus from her sister. It took two weeks for Welch to make 12 blankets that she brought to donate.
“I wanted to give back to the community for kids that need a little extra support,” Welch said.
Volunteers made a total of 360 blankets this time around, said Sharon Garver, an English teacher at AOC who serves as one of the chapter coordinators.
Garver and her students started a club that turned into a class after approval from the district. The class teaches students about the origin of Project Linus, nonprofits and about business management.
After the Saugus High School shooting, the chapter donated blankets to every student with the help of neighboring projects, too.
“They got all these beautiful quilts, crocheted blankets, fleece blankets and more, and it made a huge difference to those kids,” Garver said.
Blankets are being sent to wellness centers, schools, hospitals and other places, according to Garver. The holidays are coming up and the group hopes to supply their beneficiaries with enough blankets to cover them for the winter.
“We want (the blanket) to be brand new, never been used, and handmade by somebody because a handmade gift means so much,” Garver said. “You think of it when you have a bad day and you just want to crawl under the covers to forget the day. We’ve got these nice, big blankets for kids who are having a rough time.”