August 07, 2020 | by Jayn Mercado
Ninety-two children who are cared for in hospitals and by organizations in Solano County will soon be wrapped and warmed by these blankets. (Photo by K. Hester)
After she received the request and a special instruction to use unscented detergent and drying sheets, UMW Wayside Vallejo member Karen Hester didn’t waste a moment.
She washed, dried, and folded the 92 baby blankets that she and fellow blankeeters finished in the past 4 months. The blankets, crocheted or made of fleece with crocheted yarn edges, were then turned over to the Solano County chapter of Project Linus for labels to be sewed on, sorting, and immediate delivery to any of the 40-plus facilities and organizations the Project supports.
It is through the gifts of new handmade blankets, lovingly created by volunteer blanketeers that children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need, are provided a sense of security, warmth and comfort. This is pointed out on the Project’s website. Hester said their recent donation brought the total number of blanket recipients to 2,430.
With each blanket measuring an average of 40” by 60”, that also translates as enough material to cover three-fourths of a football field.
“We started making blankets for Project Linus in 2009,” Hester who also keeps tab of the donations, added. Last year, Wayside UMW reached a milestone: they exceeded their goal to hit 2,000 by 246! Hester’s record shows this year, the group has been averaging 26 blankets a month since January. That’s only 3 blankets away from their 2019 monthly average.
Through the years, Wayside UMW blankeeters have also found themselves teaching young people how to prepare the fabric and do the finishing. Once, they took over a third-grade class in a Vallejo public school where at the end of the day, 25 students proudly brought home the blankets they made. In another year, participants in a Vacation Bible School co-hosted by Wayside and Community Presbyterian churches, learned from the women how to finish smaller fleece sheets for dogs and cats. They were later donated to Humane Society of the North Bay in Vallejo.
“We thank everyone who supports us in this worthwhile cause through their donations of finished blankets, and their donations of funds to buy the fleece and yarn,” Hester said.
With the new month and new blankets to finish, Hester’s the one giving the instruction this time: “There is now prepped fleece and matching yarn in the church library/counting room. I bought enough fleece to prep 48 baby blankets and I have them in bags of 6 each, with matching yarn for those of you that are still helping crochet them.”