Around the world, children are in hospitals for longer than a couple weeks. Children especially could have a hard time adjusting to such a different environment. Colorado Mesa University has one club that has worked with another foundation to bring a little bit of home to the children.
Project Linus is the foundation that CMU Circle K club works with. According to their website, Project Linus was started when founder Karen Loucks read an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Eddie Adams. The article was about a three-year-old girl named Laura who was suffering from leukemia in 1995. The article caused Loucks to start handmaking blankets and delivering them to the Rocky Mountain Children’s Cancer Center in Denver, CO. Since then, Project Linus has delivered 6,673,024 blankets to children nationwide.
The Circle K club has been working with Project Linus for the past several years to create warm, handmade blankets for ill and traumatized children in hospitals across the US. Project Linus is a national organization that focuses on providing a small piece of love, security, warmth and comfort to children who are stuck in a hospital, shelter or social service agency.
Project Linus was brought to Grand Junction when the Colorado Mesa University’s Circle K’s chapter coordinators’ daughter received a blanket from the project and were inspired to start a chapter at the school. For the past four to five years, club presidents have been carrying on the project, spreading the enthusiasm and dedication to making a difference.
“When we first started out, it was like a small room with a couple of people and a couple of blankets. Now it’s grown to where we have, like, 60 people and we make 60 blankets,” said Circle K club president Jamie Hyatt.
Anyone and everyone is invited to take part in this project. Regardless of Circle K membership or affiliation.
“Project Linus is important because it brings comfort to kids in the hospital,” said Hyatt.
As anyone who has set foot in a hospital will know, spending too much time there can take a toll on a person, especially a young person.
“It’s really sanitary, you know, there’s nothing there that’s familiar,” said Hyatt, “It’s really important for the kids to have something that can bring them comfort. But I also think it’s important for our campus community because we’re bringing people from lots of different areas together to make a difference in the community around us.”
In the past, the Circle K club has been able to take their blankets to the hospital to personally give to the children. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be done every year, because a visit requires special permission from parents and lots of legal work. Also, it is not always guaranteed that a blanket made in Grand Junction will go to a child in Grand Junction. The blankets go wherever they are needed the most.
“It is the coolest feeling to be in a room with a bunch of college students all doing something that seems simple, but then it’s going for a greater cause,” said Hyatt. “And just knowing that it was happening, I wanted to get in on it. It kinda touched my heart, and then I wanted to make it so that it could touch other people’s hearts.”
Circle K, the “college version of Kiwanis”, as Hyatt described it, is a small club that continues to work with Project Linus every year simply because of the fun they have with it. Although they only have a few members, they always welcome the help of non-members when it comes to working on the project, and also to see what being a part of the club is like.
“We’re able to put on Project Linus, an event with 60 people, and, I mean, we don’t even really have that many club members,” Hyatt said. “So I think that if we had more club members, I can only imagine the things we could do, the kind of impact we could be making.”
One struggle the project faces in terms of producing blankets is that many people view the project as community service. Which some tend to stray away from. Although it could be seen as such an event, it is purely for those who want to do something for others and enjoy a night of blanket making with others.
“I feel like it really combats the idea that community service is boring,” Hyatt said. “I think when people think of community service, they think, ‘Oh, yeah, boring, awful, don’t wanna be there, don’t wanna do this’… but Project Linus, you’re essentially doing community service, you’re helping the community, but you’re having a good time while you’re doing it.”
Helping with Project Linus consists of sitting around a table and talking with friends while listening to music and snuggling with fuzzy blankets. That doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend an evening at all. Especially since at the end, it comes with the feeling of knowing that a kid somewhere out there can now be warmer and more comfortable in a strange place.
“It doesn’t seem like it could make a big difference, but for a kid to have a blanket, it really is something that can remind them of home, that can make them feel warm and comfortable and at ease,” Hyatt said.