Bellevue-area students and community volunteers got cozy for a cause, giving funds, materials and time on a recent Saturday morning at Bryan High School to craft blankets for Omaha Project Linus.
The event marked the ninth birthday party for the national organization’s Omaha chapter. The organization is dedicated to providing handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill or suffering trauma.
Participants were asked to bring new handmade and washable blankets, quilts and afghans as well as fleece for no-sew blankets, which were also offered by Project Linus. The organization also provided crocheting and sewing machines, although attendees were encouraged to bring their own equipment.
Krystal Kolb, a family consumer and science teacher and National Honors Society sponsor at Bryan, helped coordinate the event with Ginny DeBates.
The two women met through volunteering with Project Linus at the Tangier Shrine Center. Through casual conversation and a twist of fate, they discovered they had been pen pals from fifth to seventh grade. Kolb was raised in De Witt, Neb., and DeBates is originally from Ponca, Neb. The two began corresponding through an elementary school activity.
Kolb, who teaches clothing construction through her position at Bryan High, said the students’ involvement with Omaha Project Linus began when she was searching for projects for students to work on in their off-time. When the organization grew bigger and started looking for a facility with more space, Kolb offered to open Bryan High School to the community.
The organization hosts another event, Make a Blanket Day, each spring at Bryan as well.
At least 25 NHS students help assemble blankets, adding about 900 blankets from each event to the more than 35,000 blankets Omaha Project Linus has donated since its inception.
DeBates said the NHS students showed up to pitch in before she even arrived at the school, all eager to help.
“I can’t say enough that you just don’t find an environment like this where the kids come in and they help and don’t complain and they stay the whole time,” she said.
The blankets not only go to children who are sick or in difficult situations, DeBates said, but also to children who are having a tough time.