Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Results: CPSIA - Stay; Project Linus - Keep Moving Forward!

What a GREAT end to a very busy week! As of Friday, January 30th, 2009 the CPSC has issued a one year stay of enforcement on the Consumer Project Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) while the committee sorts out all of the requests for ammendments, clarifications, exclusions and exemptions, etc. that have been presented to them. From this new ruling and the letter written by Nancy Nord, the acting chairman of the committee - we are very happy to report that we do not anticipate that the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will have an impact on our organization or its mission. You can feel Ms. Nord's frustration with the CPSIA as you read her letter.

Here is a link to the letter and the press release if you would like to read it:

Nancy Nord's Letter to the committee (Click on Link):

Consumer Product Safety Commission Press release (Click on Link):

I want to stress that in the letter and the press release, the charities mentioned were those who SELL their items (Goodwill, Salvation Army, thrift stores, etc.). As you all know, Project Linus does not sell or manufacture/import items for sale but the wording of the CPSIA posed many unanswered questions as to whether or not we would be affected by this Act. The conflicting answers we received from Washington and committee members as well as the concern of volunteers across the country compelled us to voice our concerns.

Thank you for your help! We know that the letter writing campaign has made a difference and we can't thank you enough for your support! We will continue to carry out our mission with the same dedication as we have for the past 13 years.

There's still time - just e-mail Mary

If you are making a Boo-Boo Kids quilt, please deliver them to Cheryl or Mary by February 14th. Since Make a Blanket Day is a week later, you have one more week to finish your quilt. Please call or e-mail Cheryl or Mary before you deliver your quilt to make sure that we are available.

We still have a few spots open at the Boo-Boo Kids table. If you can help, please e-mail Cheryl and she will tell you what times are open.

If you know of an able-bodied person who can help bring in our blanketeers' supplies between 8:30am and 10:30am on Saturday morning, please let us know. In the past we have had members of scout troops, church groups, the Golden K's as well as family and friends. If you know of a group in need of service hours - we would love to help them out. :-)

Thank you again for all of your support and as always...

Happy Blanketmaking!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act May Improve Project Linus Out of Business

Yes, you read it correctly! We need your help to make sure that Project Linus is allowed to continue as a 501c3 nonprofit organization that donates handmade blankets as gifts to seriously ill and traumatized children and provides a tremendous service opportunity for members of our community for the benefit of children. Why would ANY act of government want to stop the good work that we are doing?

Well, on August 14, 2008, the Congress of the United States passed a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. It goes into effect on February 10, 2009. The purpose of this act is to establish consumer product safety standards following the high lead content that was found in children's toys imported from China. In response, Congress acted quickly to protect America's children by enacting the CPSIA. Unfortunately as with every law, many questions have arisen that are still unanswered. You can learn more about it at .

Basically, the Act states that all products marketed or intended for children 12 or under must undergo testing by a certified laboratory to be CPSIA compliant. There are enormous costs to do so, and very substantial fines and penalties involved for non-compliance. As originally written, the Act potentially has far reaching consequences. The Act requires those who manufacture items for sale to have their products tested. Unfortunately the way the Act is worded, the term "distribute" is used, which could include any item made and GIVEN or SOLD to a child under 12 years old. At this time, we do not know how or if it will impact Project Linus and other charitable organizations but we know that the CPSIA needs clarification with regard to charities. The reality is that if the law is not clarified to exclude charitable organizations, or to define certain terms regarding “distribution” and remove the potential liability to organizations such as Project Linus, we will have no choice but to dissolve our beloved organization.

Project Linus has been working with representatives from Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission for clarification of how the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act may or may not affect our charity and others. We know that our specific circumstances are under discussion at this time but so far we have yet to receive a clarification from the committee. We believe, and have been specifically told, that we can have an impact on the interpretation of this law. We need the help of everyone and anyone who knows of or has been touched by Project Linus to write an e-mail or letter. You don't need to be a blanketeer in order to express your opinion with regard to this legislation.

Carol Babbitt (our National President) and I have drafted a letter that you are welcome to copy and paste (fill in the blanks as indicated) and send it to your congress person, senator, the Consumer Product Safety Commission or Committee on Energy and Commerce members. Some can be sent via e-mail, but if you are not in the district of the congress person or senator you may need to send your letter to them via snail mail.

To locate the contact information for your congress person go to
To locate the contact information for your US Senator go to

HERE IS THE SAMPLE LETTER, if you would like to use it.
Bill Number H.R.4040 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
From: [your name and address]
To: [your congress person or senator, CPSIA or Committee on Energy and Commerce Members]
Re: The Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA) clarification regarding charities requested

Dear [your congress person, senator, CPSC or Committee on Energy and Commerce members],
As a volunteer and supporter of Project Linus, a 501c3 National Non-profit organization, I am very concerned about the effect the Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA) H.R. 4040 will have on our organization as of February 10, 2009. Like many people, I was deeply concerned by the dangerous and poisonous toys that large Chinese toy manufacturers have been selling to our families. I was pleased that Congress acted quickly to protect America's children by enacting the CPSIA. However, I am very concerned that the CPSIA's mandates for third party testing and labeling could have a dramatic and negative effect on our charity (Project Linus).

For your information, Project Linus distributes handmade blankets as gifts to seriously ill and traumatized children across the country. (See for more information.) We have chapters in all 50 states, have donated almost 3,000,000 blankets and our safety record has always been exemplary. If charities such as ours are not exempt from this Act the closure of our organization will devastate the hospitals, shelters, police and fire departments and other social service agencies who give our blankets as gifts to children going through a crisis. In addition it will also take away the opportunity that our volunteers have been given, which is to offer service to these children through their blanketmaking skills.

Project Linus does not sell its blankets. They are all given as gifts to children ages 0-18. We are the consumer and not a retailer or seller however the current wording in the CPSIA can be interpreted to include organizations such as ours. We are a charity and would never have the funds to submit each blanket made by our volunteers to the expensive testing required. As our new President has encouraged us to volunteer and perform acts of service, it would be devastating to approximately 60,000 volunteers such as myself who have been making blankets for Project Linus, to have our organization closed due to the CPSIA.

I urge you to quickly request the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Committee on Energy and Commerce to make some very reasonable exclusions in their interpretation of the law as they continue their rulemaking process. This would include exempting nonprofit organizations and charities who do not retail their products.

Thank you for your attention with regard to this matter.

[your name]

Here are some additional contacts:
Contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission - (301)-504-7923
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814

Contact the House Energy and Commerce Committee - (202)-225-2927
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

You are welcome to contact the personal offices of anyone on the following list, who are the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. There is not room here to post addresses, but a google search will give you their snail mail addresses.

Henry A. Waxman, CA , Chair
John Dingell, MI, Chair Emeritus
Joe Barton, TX Ranking Member
Edward Markey, MA
Rick Boucher, VA
Frank Pallone, Jr., NJ
Bart Gordon, TN
Bobby Rush, IL
Anna Eshoo, CA
Bart Stupak, MI
Eliot Engel, NY
Gene Green, TX
Diana DeGette, CO
Lois Capps, CA
Michael Doyle, PA
Jane Harman, CA
Janice Schakowsky, IL
Charles Gonzales, TX
Jay Inslee, WA
Tammy Baldwin, WI
Mike Ross, AR
Anthony Weiner, NY
Jim Matheson, UT
G.K. Butterfield, NC
Charlie Melancon, KA
John Barrow, GA
Baron Hill, IN
Doris Matsui, CA
Donna Christensen, VA
Kathy Castor, FL
John Sarbanes, MD
Christopher Murphy, CT
Zachary Space, OH
Jerry McNerney, CA
Betty Sutton, OH
Bruce Braley, IA
Peter Welch, VT
Ralph Hall, TX
Fred Upton, MI
Cliff Stearns, FL
Nathan Deal, GA
Ed Whitfield, KY
John Shimkus, IL
John Shadegg, AZ
Roy Blunt, MO
Steve Buyer, IN
George Radanovich, CA
Joseph Pitts, PA
Mary Bono Mack, CA
Greg Walden, OR
Lee Terry, NE
Mike Rogers, MI
Sue Wilkins Myrick, NC
John Sullivan, OK
Tim Murphy, PA
Michael Burgess, TX
Marsha Blackburn, TN
Phil Gingrey, GA

With our 60,000+ volunteers we can make a difference! Please help these legislators to understand that we are not a manufacturer. We are the consumer! We don’t manufacture or sell blankets! We don’t have a factory or any location anywhere in the country where blankets are assembled. These blankets are largely made by individuals, in their homes or in small private groups. Almost 3 MILLION blankets have been donated to almost 3 MILLION children under strict quality control standards. Speak from your heart, share your passion and help us to insure the future of Project Linus.

Thank you so much and long live Project Linus! :-)


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Project Linus for Kids; the Shawl Ministry for Grown-ups

On Monday morning, we received a phone call telling us that dear friends of ours, Amy and Sean, lost their 19 month old daughter, suddenly. Immediately my mind took me back to 3 years ago when we lost our sweet little Luke, suddenly. Such tragedies initially take their toll on our minds, our bodies and our spirits. They rob us of our ability to be alone with our thoughts. They remove our desire to put one foot in front of the other. They can even cause us to question our faith for a time. From the moment we received the call, we knew that this was the beginning of a very rough road for our friends and my heart ached. Although it has been 3 years, it felt as if it was happening all over again. But...then we realized that it HAD been 3 years and in that length of time we have come a long way. We knew we now needed to take what we had learned and help our friends. We needed to serve them as we had been served.

As you all know, Project Linus blankets offer comfort and security to those going through a crisis. Through the events of this week, I have been reminded that Project Linus came to our family's rescue 3 years ago. Our lives fell apart a week before Make a Blanket Day (our busiest event of the year) yet volunteers came forward and made it all happen without a glitch. Luke's twin brother Logan received a Project Linus blanket when he lost his brother and another one when he was in the hospital having surgery to manage the condition that took the life of his brother. Then, our son Alex received a Project Linus blanket when he also had surgery for the same condition. They received comfort from these special blankets and we were comforted by the love and support offered by those who served us in such a very special way. In addition a dear blanketeer made a special gift for me - a shawl as part of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. In a nutshell - a person handmakes a prayer shawl, not knowing who the recipient will be. She prays for the recipient as she makes the shawl. Then, when the opportunity arises, she presents the shawl to someone in need.
I was the recipient of such a prayer shawl. As a Project Linus blanket recipient wraps the blanket around his or her shoulders and receives a hug of comfort - the same is true for a prayer shawl. The only difference is that Project Linus is for kids and a prayer shawl is for grown-ups. As I wrapped my shawl around my shoulders I felt the love, the prayers and the concern of the person who made the shawl. I truly felt it comfort me and heal me.

When our friends saw their sweet little daughter in the Emergency Room - she had been given a Project Linus blanket. They had the blanket on display at the funeral and placed it over her chair at home. I'm so glad that Project Linus was there for them in much the same way it was there for us. I believe it brought them comfort to know how much they are loved. Each brother and sister as well as five cousins received Project Linus blankets. One of Tori's sisters said that their Project Linus blankets are for them to wrap around their shoulders when they miss Tori. I know that the special hug of comfort that they feel brings them closer to little Tori for a moment. That's a good thing. As for the prayer shawls, I always have one shawl "ready to go" for a time when it's needed. For some reason, this time, I had two. I was able to give Mom - Amy and Grammy - Soni a shawl to comfort them as well. I hope that as it holds them, it eventually will help to heal them, as it did me.

I'm so grateful that Project Linus has given me the opportunity to serve others during times of crisis in such a personal way. We hear from parents all over the country how blessed they feel when their child receives a handmade treasure from someone they don't even know. They are grateful to know that others care about them and want to help ease their pain. Of course, we can't take away the pain, but I know that when we wrap a blanket or a shawl around our shoulders - the comforting hug we feel can take our thoughts to a better place, reestablish our desire to put one foot in front of the other and reminds us of our faith.

We can't change what has happened, but we can offer service to those going through such a difficult time. In addition, when we offer service we are able to forget ourselves and focus on others. I have found that when I am able to focus on the needs of others it helps to heal my own soul. I feel like I've reached some milestones in our "healing process" this week. That is also a good thing.

Our love to Amy and family and Soni and family.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

My theme for 2009: "The Glass IS Half Full!"

Each year I have tried to come up with a "theme" or "mantra" for the year. 2008 was "Because Nice Matters". My daughter Cari made me a beautiful plaque with "Because Nice Matters" written on it. I have it proudly displayed in my sewing room, by my computer and I have honestly tried to be nice this year. It's not that I'm intentionally annoying or demanding or short tempered or insensitive or generally "not nice" but its seems as though I don't always "think before I speak or act" and that's what gets me into trouble. I tried my best to make a postive change in 2008. As I move on to a new theme for 2009, it doesn't mean that I'm finished being nice because that was an "old 2008 goal" ...I do plan to move on to my new "mantra"...but I still plan to be nice :-)

2009 brings a new "theme" to my year. "The glass IS half full." I have always been a "half empty kind of person". I know - how depressing. I did have a method to my madness, however. I felt that if I expected the worst, and ANYTHING less than the worst occurred, I wouldn't be disappointed. In fact - I found I could even find joy in most outcomes that didn't meet my negative expectations. Well - the anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, etc. that accompanies a doom and gloom attitude just isn't worth it. I have a wonderful husband and family, a GREAT "job" with Project Linus, tremendous friends and a strong faith. How could that glass possibly be half empty?

So, as 2009 begins with our 10th birthday celebration I want to let each of you know how much Cheryl and I appreciate you. As we prepare for Make a Blanket Day on February 28th and our Boo-Boo Kids display on the 27th and 28th I am simply overwhelmed by your kindness, generosity and giving spirits. Thank you for pre-registering. How exciting to have so many of our volunteers gather together and spend an entire day making blankets and socializing! Thank you for offering to help with Boo-Boo Kids set-up on Thursday evening, MABD set-up on Friday evening and MABD clean-up on Saturday. Thank you! At our first MABD at the mall in February of 2002, my husband Terry and I set up the event in an ice storm, all by ourselves. We were at the mall until almost 1am - and then back at 7am to finish. The next year, we decided to ask for help - and you responded to our call. Every year since, many of you have come to our rescue! We couldn't do it without you!

I want to remind you that Carol (our National President) will be hosting our luncheon as well as filling orders for the charms you earned for your bracelets. (THANK YOU CAROL!!!) Please bring a dish to pass (salad, snack or dessert) and we will provide the paper products, chicken and bottled water - along with a few other goodies. Don't forget to bring your charm bracelet with you if you would like Carol to attach the charms for you. We have an adorable "birthday balloons" charm for our 10th Anniversary Make a Blanket Day!

As I finish up my message for today, it just makes me realize that my glass isn't half full - it's OVERFLOWING!!! Maybe I need to change my theme to "The Glass is OVERFLOWING!"

Happy Blanketmaking!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe that it's already January 1st! Next to Christmas and my birthday month (I celebrate the ENTIRE month of October) New Year's day is one of my favorite days of the year. I love being able to start fresh and set some goals for myself. I've learned that my goals need to be realistic or they just don't work for me - whether it be personal goals or Project Linus goals.
Here are my two REALISTIC 2009 New Year's Resolutions for Project Linus:

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: As everyone will tell you, I tend to come up with an idea and then expand on it to the point that it takes every waking moment and every available person to carry it out. It's not intentional - it just happens. For example - we had an idea where we would be displaying blanket requests on an "angel tree" at Make a Blanket Day inviting blanketeers to make blankets for the children of the women at the Women's Correctional Facility. We figured we'd need about 40-50 blankets but when all was said and done, it turned into a major project of 778 blankets. Wow! We did it - with the help of each of you - but it was a bit more than we bargained for. We're still recovering! :-) I'll try my best to make things as simple as possible without compromising quality and fun when it comes to our events. So, this year at Make a Blanket Day we will have pre-registration but I will not be making personalized nametags and door prize tickets. We'll still have door prizes and nametags but there will be generic packets with blank tickets in the packets and attendees will need to write their own names on their nametags and door prize tickets. You have to start somewhere, right?

Ask and accept help as needed: I have always been reluctant to ask for help simply because each of you donate so much of your time and energy by making blankets and I feel guilty asking you to do more. But, many of you have reprimanded me for NOT asking for help. So, I'll make a deal with each of you. I'll ask for help as needed and if you're able to help - you'll say yes. If you're not able to help - you'll say no. Agreed?

IMPORTANT NEWS: The date for our February Make a Blanket Day has changed. It will be held on Saturday, February 28th from 9am - 3:00pm. We will have the Boo-Boo Kids quilts displayed Friday and Saturday. If you can help by working a 2 hour shift selling tickets at the mall on either Friday or Saturday we would be very grateful. We always have a VERY difficult time getting volunteers to help in this area - and it's really a very easy job. You simply sit at a table and encourage people to vote for their favorite Boo-Boo Kids quilt for $1.00 per vote. You can even bring a project to work on or a book to read while you're there! Details on how to help and pre-registration will be forthcoming in our newsletter. Let Cheryl or me know if you can help. Please pass this information along to anyone you know without e-mail.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PROJECT LINUS CENTRAL IL: In January of 1999 our chapter of Project Linus was officially organized. Happy Birthday to us! What a great 10 years it has been. I want each of you to know what a privilege and a pleasure it is to work with each of you. It takes a very special group of caring individuals who would give so much of their time and personal resources in order to touch the lives of some very special children going through a rough time. Thank you! My life has been so enriched simply by our friendship and I am so grateful that our paths continue to cross as we serve side by side.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your 2009 is blessed with good health, prosperity and all the time you need to do what you love to do!

Happy Blanketmaking!