La Plata County residents reach out to others, both locally and around the world, in many ways. But I have a particular soft spot – which you’ll soon see is a groan-worthy pun – for Project Linus.
Founded in 2001, the members of Project Linus put their creative and craft talents to good use by knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing and knotting blankets for traumatized children and youth in crisis.
It’s a shame I can’t get a drum roll with my column, because they have achieved something remarkable in these last 13 years. Since the inception of the chapter, they have made and donated more than 6,300 blankets.
Each year, they distribute more than 300 blankets to children of all ages through various agencies including Mercy Regional Medical Center, La Plata Family Center and local law enforcement and emergency services.
“We think that a blanket, much like a hug, wrapped around a hurting child, can bring a sense of security and comfort,” said an advocate at the Four Corners Child Advocacy Center.
The medical staff at the emergency room at Mercy use the blankets as a tool to communicate with an injured or sick child.
“They can distract and calm a frightened child with a blanket to administer to their medical needs,” said Regina Hogan, Durango Area Chapter coordinator for Project Linus.
Not only do their blankets help local kids, these talented folks have sent blankets to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Haiti after the earthquake and Afghanistan after a natural disaster there.
On Wednesday, members visited the Robert E. DeNier Youth Services Center for its holiday party. For the past 10 years, they have been making special blankets for the students who are detained there for the holidays, which we can all imagine is a tough time.
During the party, Ray Roloff, the director at the center, recognized the Project Linus members for “10 years of generosity and caring.”
Hello Dollface members Ashley Edwards and Jesse Ogle, who teach music at the center, performed with the students. Hogan said Edwards and Ogle have formed a nonprofit to be able to teach in the schools.
DeNier Center staff member Debra Relaford and her team gift wrap a special blanket for each teen who must remain at the center for the holidays. This year, that means at least 16 teens are in that position. It’s the only gift they’re allowed on Christmas Day.
Project Linus also makes blankets for the children of families assisted by Project Merry Christmas.
Project Linus is particularly grateful for its partnership with the La Plata Quilters Guild. In September, the guild held a Small Quilt Exhibition, with all sales and raffle proceeds benefiting Project Linus.
Because every blanket uses only new materials to protect the well-being of the young recipient, one of the biggest challenges for the organization is purchasing the materials to make the blankets, such as yarn, batting, fleece, fabric and thread. Like everything else in life, the cost of the materials has continued to rise.
So the proceeds from the guild and individual donors are key to the success of Project Linus. These talented people put in the labor and time to create these blankets, it seems like the rest of us can at least make sure they have the funding they need.
If you would like to make a donation to support Project Linus, send it c/o Regina Hogan, coordinator, 60 Baranca Drive, Durango, CO 81301.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more or volunteer your craftiness.
Keeping their fingers crossed that their birthdays won’t be forgotten in the midst of the holiday madness are Nicki Masseion, Bonna Steinle, Steve Govreau, Mark Rahner, Susan VanDenBerg, Eric Speck, Amos Cordova, Paula Seay, Nathan Ciluffo, David Lobato, Miranda Polsfut, Grant Pierce, Clark Kinser, Ginna Harbison, Shonda Atwater and Bill Steinberg.
How often do we say, “I should get a mammogram or prostate exam? Or put off a colonoscopy because we don’t want to drink the solution?
Since losing her mother, Barbara King, to colon cancer in 2013, Jackie Ellis has been telling everyone she knows to make sure they get that colonoscopy when their doctor recommends it, because early detection makes all the difference when it comes to survivability.
At the end of November, she took the message on the road – literally. Ellis road 75 miles on her bicycle at El Tour de Tucson, Arizona, with a simple message on her jersey: “Riding for Mom. Get your Colonoscopy.”
A number of people commented on her mission, from people saying, “I need to schedule that,” to someone who lost a dear friend at the age of 42 to colon cancer and a man who was a survivor of the disease.
Ellis, who works as a nurse at Durango Dermatology and teaches spin and Pilates classes at the Durango Community Recreation Center, said she was conscious of her strong, healthy body throughout the ride. She felt her mother with her every pedal of the way.
She also remembered her mother saying, “I know I should have gotten that colonoscopy instead of putting it off.”
I don’t want to lose anymore readers to colon cancer, so make it your Christmas present to yourself and your family or a resolution for starting 2015.
Stealing some quiet time to celebrate their anniversaries this week are Ward and Rita Lee, Terry and Dinah Swan, Martin and Charlotte Pirnat, Dorman and Dottie Mashan, Wayne and Kathy Pratt, Robert and Marie Maple, Raymond and Sue Walker, Terry and Patrice Lindemann and David and Gemma Kidd.
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