Project Linus Assists Children in Crisis
Lois Misko spent about $400 at her last trip to Joann Fabrics. While she was shopping, she made some friends with those curious what she was going to make with all the yards of fleece in her cart. She shared she’s making blankets. One woman told Lois how when her granddaughter was in the hospital, she received a blanket from Project Linus, and it was still cherished today. While Lois couldn’t be certain she herself made the blanket, hearing someone’s experience still brought her joy.
The fabric Lois was purchasing that day was to help children in crisis through the Project. The program donates blankets to hospitals, fire departments, funeral homes, and shelters and makes sure to connect kids to them during a difficult time of their lives. Lois is the chapter coordinator of the South Hills; she believes the mission of the nonprofit extends beyond helping kids. She says, “Our first mission is to provide blankets. Our second mission is to provide fellowship for people looking to volunteer in their community.”
Lois, now Chapter Coordinator for the Greater Pittsburgh Area, got her start with Project Linus in 2006 when she was taking care of her mother after surgery. While spending time with her, she wanted to do something that would keep her busy, but still allow her to engage in conversation and spend time with her mother, so she began making no-sew fleece blankets for the organization. After her mother passed away six months later, she was looking for something to help her transition, and got a group of women together in September of 2007 for her first blanket making group. Over the years, she has expanded to about twenty women coming weekly to make blankets and found a community among them. These women help each other through life, loss, and provide friendship and support through their giving. Last year, they distributed over 16,000 blankets to children and teens, and are expecting to surpass that number by the end of this year.
While volunteers may use their own supplies, Lois provides supplies through donations and two corporate groups in order to open the doors to those who may not be able to afford supplies to knit, crochet, quilt, or sew. Their storefront in Caste Village Shops, Project Linus Activity Center Extraordinaire (lovingly referred to as P.L.A.C.E.), serves as the Allegheny County chapter’s headquarters where Lois and other volunteers teach classes, host blanket making sessions, and where volunteers can “shop” for supplies from their stock. All supplies are provided free of charge for people to make blankets for Project Linus.
Lois stressed in her interview, “Some people will say ‘I don’t have time to make a ton of blankets.’ The child you donated to doesn’t know how many blankets you made. You can just make one blanket and that will make a difference. With so much going on in this world, it’s important to know there are things we can do.” She was brought up volunteering and was taught, “If you think only of yourself you can never have enough. If you think of others you can never do enough.“