Fifth-graders in Rose Giacherio’s class have found a way to warm the world, one blanket at a time.
The students recently completed 13 no-sew blankets and many more scarves that they will donate to two local groups in need of warmth. The blankets will go to Project Linus (Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County), a recently formed chapter, and the scarves will go to Delonis Center, a homeless shelter in the city.
Giacherio said her Eberwhite Elementary students decided where to donate their homemade blankets. “The kids went home and asked their families if there were any charities important to them, and they came in and described them to the class,” she said.
“We brainstormed charities and then we voted on them,” explained Ella, one of the students involved with the project. “We had to do things around Ann Arbor.”
Giacherio got the blanket-making idea a couple of years ago after spending some time in the hospital. While in recovery, she awoke to discover a hand-made blanket over her. Last year was the first time she had her students create blankets, which were given to a hospice program.
This year, the students decided to give them to Project Linus, which has a new chapter that just formed in the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County area. Leftover material is being transformed into scarves for the Delonis Center. Giacherio said she got the pattern for making the blankets on the Project Linus Web page. The no-sew pattern is made of fleece, with fringe cut and knotted.
Teams of four students each had a $16 budget to spend for project materials. Armed with a discount coupon at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, the teams selected their colors and patterns and then got on with the blanket making.
Giacherio said the project is more than a craft. It teaches students math skills – they had to figure out how much material they could get for the money – as well as measuring and cutting when making their blankets. They also had to discuss the project and work together as a team making it.
“We do life skills, talk about making a difference in the county,” she said. “This is the kind of thing that makes a difference.”
Students rolled the blankets, tied them with ribbon and put personalized tags on each of them before making their donation.
Project Linus has hundreds of local chapters and thousands of volunteers across the United States which follow the same mission: “To provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers,’” and “to provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.”
Project Linus (Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County formed in December and has already received donations of more than 2,000 blankets. Chapter Coordinator Monique Sluymers is looking for assistant chapter coordinators to help receive, label and distribute blankets and to seek out local organizations that might be recipients of donated blankets.
Sluymers said other volunteers sew on labels, check for pins to make sure they are ready to go, and then sort and bag the blankets by size. Anyone interested in volunteering for Project Linus in Washtenaw County can e-mail Sluymers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the group’s blanket donation efforts, they are shipping 1,000 blankets to the relief effort in Haiti, she added.
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