Project Linus launches as a new effort to comfort

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by Beth Herrinton-Hodge | Landmark News Service

“Happiness is … a warm blanket,” the Peanuts character Linus proclaims. Who better to make such a claim than the lovable boy who seldom is seen without his blanket?

Shelbyville resident Becky Jew must understand, because she is trying to bring happiness, or at least comfort, to children in Spencer County through the gift of homemade blankets.
Jew is the area coordinator for a new chapter of Project Linus, a national organization that seeks to make comforting blankets available to children who are sick, who experience trauma or who need a little TLC.
“When children receive handmade blankets, it’s like a nice warm hug,” Jew says.
Her role is to spread the word about Project Linus and to connect with individuals and groups who wish to make or donate blankets, who are called “blanketeers.”
She also works with health departments, shelters, police and sheriff’s departments and schools to get blankets to children. Her territory covers Spencer, Shelby, Henry, Oldham and Anderson counties. It’s a big job, and she’s starting out with gusto.
The Taylorsville Police Department was the first official recipient of blankets from Jew’s chapter. She donated 10 blankets to Chief Toby Lewis on Friday.
Lewis said officers will keep a blanket in their cars to distribute when needed, and spares will be kept at the police department.
Jew has driven through Shelbyville, Mount Eden and Taylorsville, stopping at churches, grocery stores and places in between to deliver Project Linus brochures and build new relationships.
“I stopped in one store to ask if they would display my brochures,” she said. “When I finished explaining the project, the woman reached behind the counter and handed me two baby blankets.”
The Project Linus organization is familiar to Jew.
“My mother started a chapter in her small town in Virginia about 16 years ago. I used to help her round up blankets and distribute them to children,” she says.
She stepped up to develop a local chapter because this was the only region in Kentucky without a Project Linus group. She has a special passion for the project as a way to memorialize her mother, Marian, who passed away five years ago.  
She emphasizes that the blankets must be homemade and not purchased factory-made from a store, and she says she doesn’t profess to be an expert at blanket-making.
“I sew,” she says. “I knit poorly. I crochet even worse. But I can make a No-Sew blanket, and I can teach others to make them, too.”  
Project Linus is hosting a Blanket Making Day on June 19 at the Shelby County Public Library.  The event is limited to 35 participants and will take place in the Hudson Room from 10 a.m. to noon.
Participants need to pre-register and bring their own supplies to make a No-Sew blanket.
To register and receive a supplies list, contact the library: 502-633-3803, ext. 11.
So what does Jew want to tell the public about her project?
“Give me blankets,” she says quickly. “I want to ensure that if a child needs a blanket, we have one to give.”
As a new organization, the local chapter of Project Linus welcomes donations of supplies, money, and volunteer time as well. She notes that 80 percent of all monetary donations goes toward blankets and blanket-making supplies. These go directly to children.

Spencer Magnet Editor Shannon Brock contributed to this report.