The simple gift of a blanket is what Project Linus is all about.
And a group of women throughout the lake area have recently donated its 1,000th blanket.
Project Linus has hundreds of chapters and thousands of volunteers across the country.
Local chapters and volunteers work together to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to seriously ill, traumatized and other children in need.
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Nationwide, the nonprofit has distributed more than 3 million blankets to children in need since it was founded in 1995. The North Mecklenburg Chapter of Project Linus organized in the fall of 2007 and is one of almost 400 chapters in the U.S.
Since then, the North Mecklenburg Chapter has donated more than 1,000 blankets to more than 25 local agencies and individuals in the Lake Norman and Charlotte area. Among the recipients are the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, the Community Pregnancy Center in Mooresville, students with autism from Davidson Elementary, the Salvation Army Center of Hope and the Mooresville-based Lake Norman Regional Medical Center's pediatric department.
Those responsible for making the blankets and afghans are called "blanketeers."
"Our 1,000th blanket was donated in August this year," said Colleen Thrailkill, who lives in Cornelius and is a recently retired public school teacher and the North Mecklenburg chapter coordinator. "It went to South Mountain Children's Home in Nebo, North Carolina. Although most of our blankets are distributed locally, some go a little further afield. One set even went to Afghanistan with a local pastor in November 2008."
The local chapter is supported primarily through the efforts of a knitting/crocheting/quilting group known as Clickety Clack and Yackety Yack, all-inclusive groups with no formal membership. The groups have about 15 core attendees, mostly women.
"CC & YY," as it is known by its members, grew out of an early morning water aerobics class at the YMCA. They started meeting in members' homes, but soon the Lake Norman YMCA in Cornelius offered them space. The groups met monthly to make and label blankets for children.
"They try to corral just about anyone who wanders through the doorway of the Y's community room while they are meeting, enlisting their help to tie knots in the popular fleece blankets that are among the blankets the group makes," said Thrailkill. "Our mission is to make sure that all children in need in our area receive a warm blanket that is their own."
Project Linus also accepts donations of traditional quilted blankets and knitted and crocheted blankets.
Donations of blankets and funding for materials also filter in from local school groups, churches and private individuals. Clickety Clack and Yackety Yack are the largest donors to the local chapter of Project Linus.
They supply many hours of knot-tying on fleece blankets, label sewing and blanket washing to prepare the blankets to go to their young recipients.