Once a month, Gretna’s St. Patrick Catholic Church’s basement transforms into a workshop for “Blanketeers.” They aren’t elves, but they work year-round to craft homemade gifts for children.

They work for Project Linus, a national volunteer organization that provides free blankets to local children through age 18 who are ill or traumatized. The Omaha chapter donated more than 61,000 blankets over the last 3 years.

Each year the project’s 20 members put on annual “Make a Blanket Day” in March with the help of Bryan High School’s National Honor Society. During this event, people of all ages and backgrounds come together and tie hundreds of blankets, DeBates said.

When searching for a large venue to host the event, Omaha Linus Project coordinator Ginny DeBates said she contacted Bryan NHS sponsors to see if they’d be interested in helping out.

Bryan teacher Melissa Gates said they’re always looking for non-profit organizations to work with.

“At the end of the day when they’re hauling out hundreds of blankets, they can really see that they’re making a difference,” Gates said.

Project members often spend their own money to make the blankets, DeBates said.

“I can’t tell you how good these people are,” DeBates said. “You would think with all the other things going on in people’s lives that they wouldn’t pay $30 to make a blanket, but they just keep coming and coming.”

Make a Blanket Day will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 4 at Bryan. DeBates asks those who want to participate to bring fleece, scissors and a snack to share.

A new sewing machine will be given away at the event. Each blanket donated – except those created with the Project Linus’ fabric – will earn the volunteer one entry into the drawing.

DeBates said she hopes to have a big crowd. Majewski encourages everyone nearby to put their creative juices toward the event’s good cause.

“You can only use so many blankets yourself,” Majewski said.

“This way you can sew to your heart’s content and have a place to put them.”

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