Key Club carries on tradition of making blankets for Project Linus

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Emily Schmidt

Key Club makes blankets for Project Linus.

Emily Schmidt, Copy Editor

Project Linus is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to provide comfort and a sense of security to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. With chapters in all 50 states, they also strive to provide people with a rewarding and fun opportunity to use their talents to benefit children.

For the past four years, Bellevue West’s Key Club has made blankets to donate to Omaha’s chapter of Project Linus as one of many projects that encourage leadership through serving others. This year was no exception to the tradition as they made eight tied fleece blankets of a range of sizes, patterns, and colors.

“I think the best part was seeing everybody get together and have one common goal of helping people and I guess being able to know that you’re making kids feel a little better and making an impact,” Key Club’s vice president, junior Molly Storm said.

Once the blankets are completed and deposited at one of several drop off destinations in the community by individuals or groups like Key Club, volunteers make sure each blanket is safe and add finishing touches before they are sent out to their final destinations.

“We sew tags on them, we make sure that they’re good quality blankets, we go through some quality control there, make sure they don’t have any pet hair or don’t smell like cigarette smoke or any of that kind of stuff and then we bundle the blankets and we get them ready for distribution,” Omaha Project Linus Chapter Coordinator Ginny Debates said.

Project Linus accepts all types of blankets. Quilts, knitted/crocheted, and fleece are among the most popular, but Debates said style doesn’t matter, just be extra cautious and do your very best work because each blanket represents a child. Project Linus needs a variety of blankets because some are not able to be used in certain cases.

“Every blanket is not appropriate for every situation,” Debates said. “The quilts – the ones that are made with the cotton fabric, the more of the old fashioned type of quilts – those go for the premature babies because they can’t be around all that fluffy fleece. It gets in their noses, it’s too much for them respiratory wise.”

Debates emphasized the fact that there’s a spot for every blanket, its place just needs to be found.

“Sometimes we’ll need blankets like the fleece blankets for the bigger kids and then lo and behold we’ll get a nice group of those,” Debates said. “We’re not really a religious organization, but I’m telling you, there’s somebody upstairs who’s doing our accounting because we get what we need.”

While the blankets are a yearly project, they are far from Key Club’s only one. The Key Club was simultaneously making the blankets and planning other projects and opportunities such as Trick or Treat for Unicef, a fundraising program whose donations go towards eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. Key Club’s advisor, Spanish teacher Jennifer Sedlacek usually allows the officers to make most decisions, but may have to remind them of their limits sometimes.

“I do kind of have to say ‘hey, we have a lot on our plates, let’s do what we’ve got before adding something new and more’,” Sedlacek said. “That makes it a little bit harder too cause everybody wants to be involved which is great but we can’t overcommit either.”

Drop off locations, events, and more information on the Omaha chapter of Project Linus can be found at http://www.omahaprojectlinus.org/index.html. Key Club meets every Thursday at 3:30 after school in room 221.