Project Linus provides handmade blankets to children in need of comfort

Published on January 18, 2017

Eighteen blankets were donated recently to the Sackville Fire Department and RCMP from the Sackville Project Linus volunteer group. Sewed onto the corner of each blanket is a small silky tag that reads: Made with tender loving care for Project Linus. Above, left to right, Heather Patterson and Bernice McMaster, members of the local Project Linus branch, present the blankets to Fire Chief Craig Bowser, RCMP community program officer Jean-Francois Leblanc, and Sgt. Paul Gagne. PHOTO SUBMITTED

SACKVILLE, N.B. – In times of emergencies or trauma, a cozy blanket can bring a lot of comfort.

So local emergency responders were thrilled when a new volunteer group in Sackville recently delivered 18 handmade blankets to the fire department and RCMP detachment for use in times of crises.

It can bring comfort, reassurance and stability to somebody who may be having the worst day or their life. Fire Chief Craig Bowser

The volunteers are affiliated with Project Linus, an organization made up of volunteers across Canada that sews or knits blankets to be given as gifts to traumatized or seriously ill children.

Sackville Fire Chief Craig Bowser said all of Sackville’s fire trucks and police cruisers are now fully stocked with these blankets that can be used in emergency situations.

From families in a motor vehicle collision or displaced from a fire, or children witnessing a domestic dispute, having a blanket available to hand out could help someone through a traumatic event, knowing that gift was made with love and care.

“It can bring comfort, reassurance and stability to somebody who may be having the worst day or their life,” said Bowser.

“Hopefully we never have to use them but they’re certainly there when we do need them,” he added.

Heather Patterson, a member of the Sackville Project Linus branch, said she and a friend Bernice McMaster had heard about the initiative through other chapter members in Shediac and Moncton.

“So we thought it would be a good idea to start one up in Sackville,” said Patterson.

The two ladies started planning over the summer and had their first meeting in October. That initial meeting drew about a dozen new members; while several others also jumped on board to help sew, knit and crochet blankets from their homes.

Since then, the group has donated a total of 32 blankets in all, 18 to the Sackville fire and police departments and 14 to Autumn House, a women’s shelter in Cumberland County.

“We just thought it was a really neat idea, to be able to do something we love – sew, knit or crochet – and do something that has a good purpose.”

The blankets are all of different shapes and sizes and colors and can include quilts, fleece blankets, afghans and more. The only requirement? They have to be handmade.

Patterson said she believes these gifts have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives when they are facing emergency situations; hopefully it can make them feel like they have someone reaching out to them, even though that someone may be a stranger.

Patterson said their group invites anyone who likes to knit or sew to join.

Bowser said he was impressed with the work of the volunteers.

“You can tell the ladies who are volunteering their time have a true passion for what they are doing,” he said.

Jean-Francois Leblanc, community program officer with the RCMP, said the blankets are of the highest quality and can be kept by the recipient following the emergency.