Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Let's Bring Out The Sun!

"I feel life is a journey and we all have to learn to ride the storm. For some of us it can seem more like a tidal wave, but with every storm the sun eventually comes back out." -Alyson Bradley

This is a quote from Alyson Bradley - a woman diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder. If you are not familiar with Asperger's it is a milder variant of Autistic Disorder (which is a brain development disorder). Autism is not a new term - but the questions, research and discoveries associated with autism have recently been brought to the forefront.

This year at our Project Linus National Conference, we were privileged to hear from Illinois State University Psychology Department Faculty Member Karla Doepke and Marty - an autistic young woman. Karla and Marty gave us an overview of autism and touched on the difficulties that those with this disorder experience in the "real world". Most of us found that we knew very little about autism. We also didn't know that as Project Linus volunteers, we could be of service to the children and families in our area who are dealing with autism. Karla and Marty focused their remarks on the use of a weighted blanket as a calming and comforting influence on an autistic child. Although there is no single option that is effective for every autistic child, weighted blankets are being used with very positive results. It has been shown to be very effective in giving some individuals with autism a much needed hug of comfort and in many cases a much needed restful night's sleep. Even as an adult, Marty showed us her weighted blanket that she treasures and uses regularly.

Now - when the words "blanket" and "child" and "comfort" and "hug" are connected with a child in need, our Project Linus hearts are touched and our desire to serve kicks into high gear. We just can't help ourselves. That's what we're here serve. Weighted blankets are VERY expensive and most are not covered by insurance. When families are dealing with a special needs child, the costs of care, therapy and treatment can be financially devastating. So - here's our plan:

On Thursday, September 17th, 2009 Project Linus Central IL will have our Fall Make a Blanket Day at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This will not be our "traditional" Make a Blanket Day. We will begin with a program by Karla and individuals affiliated with "The Autism Place". Following their remarks we will be instructed as to how to make "weighted blankets". Then, we will go to our work stations and make weighted blankets for autistic children in Central IL. We do have some fabric specifications which I will detail in our next newsletter.

What can you do?
1. Pre-register for Fall Make a Blanket Day by e-mailing
2. Arrive around 8:30am to set up your work area in the gym, as usual.
3. Be in place by 9:00am to listen to our guest speakers
4. Listen to the demo on how to make a Project Linus weighted blanket
5. Help out as needed (sewing, cutting, stuffing, labeling)
6. Bring bed sheets (new or used). These will be folded and stuffed into the pockets sewn into each blanket.
7. Join us as we serve, side by side!
8. We will still have lunch, door prizes, special drawings and LOTS OF BLANKETMAKING FUN! You won't want to miss it! :-)

NOTE: With regard to the sheets, used sheets must be freshly laundered, free of any smells (musty, febreeze or similar, dryer sheets, smoke) and must be stain-free. They can be any color. Ask your friends, family, anyone you can think of to help us. Each weighted blanket needs 12 sheets (twin, double or queen sized) - if you have king size we ask that they be cut in half and hemmed. If the sheets are fitted sheets, we will need to cut off the elastic and hem the edges. We can make these alterations at MABD. If you don't have any used sheets - we found sheets at Wal-Mart for $4.00 each last February. Maybe you have a friend that doesn't sew but would like to help Project Linus - here is a perfect opportunity. Also garage sales can be a great place to find inexpensive sheets.

If we do not have enough sheets we can give the parents a blanket without sheets and ask them to purchase their own - but we would rather give them a completed blanket if possible. At this point we would like to fill an order of 300 blankets. I know it's a LARGE order, but I also know that we can do it! We don't have to make them all at our Make a Blanket Day - but we can make a great start.

Usually, by the end of the summer, Cheryl and I are very low on blankets and need to have a Fall MABD in order to replenish our supply. For some reason, this year that is not the case. Our blanket supply is very abundant and we know that it is because we have another special mission for our fall MABD.

We hope that you will plan to attend. We hope that you will ask friends and family to donate clean laundered sheets (without holes or stains or smells) for you to bring with you.
We need volunteers who would be willing to be "sheet storage and drop-off locations" for us. With all of the blankets that Cheryl and I have, we just don't have room for any more. If you may be able to help us in that area, please let us know.

Cheryl and I are VERY excited about this project. We hope you will be too. Let's see if we can "bring out the sun" in the lives of some very special children and families.

Thanks so much for your help and your support!
Happy blanketmaking!
Mary and Cheryl