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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Local woman sends blankets to Japan

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Karen van Oostenrijk holds a Chicago Bears blanket, and her sister Linda Mercer of Shelbyville holds a New York Yankees blanket. Both are members of the Nashville chapter of Project Linus. "Since our family is from Chicago, I was very happy to find 'Da Bears' fleece!", said Mercer.
(Submitted photo)
In the long-running comic strip "Peanuts," the character Linus, although in many ways the most intelligent and thoughtful of the group, had a vulnerability -- he needed what he called his "security blanket," and was traumatized to have it taken away, even for a short time.

In real life, a blanket can indeed be a thing of comfort for a child in a stressful situation. That's the motivation behind "Project Linus," a nationwide charity which sends handmade blankets or afghans to children who are "seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need."

Shelbyville's Linda Mercer, one of the group's volunteers, is now sending homemade blankets to Japan for children affected by the earthquake, tsunami and related events.

Linda Mercer was delighted to find Boy Scout-themed fleece, which she used to make this blanket.
(Submitted photo)
The blankets are simple -- a bit of fleece, embroidered and hemmed -- but the love and care that goes into them speaks volumes.

"It's just a small thing we can do," said Mercer, whose sister Karen van Oostenrijk founded the Nashville chapter of Project Linus.

The Project Linus web site (projectlinus.org) states the rationale for sending homemade blankets.

"We receive thousands of letters and thank you notes every year from children," states the web site. "Over and over they express how touched they are that a stranger would take the time to make something for them. They really know the difference. Purchased blankets are nice, but handmade blankets are from the heart."

Mercer estimates that in the six years she's been involved with Project Linus, she has given about 250 blankets.

Mercer likes finding fleece with interesting or appropriate prints that a child might enjoy -- for example, she recently found some fleece with a Boy Scout print, something sure to be appropriate for some young Scout.

According to the web site, the blankets must be free of smoke, fragrances or strong chemicals, or embellishments like buttons which could pose a choking hazard if detached. Many of the blankets are distributed through hospitals, which will refuse the blankets if they appear to pose an allergy or safety risk.

Mercer has just taken up quilting as a hobby, but for the purposes of Project Linus simple fleece blankets are much more appropriate.

"The fleece is much quicker," she said, allowing more blankets to be produced in the same amount of time. And that means more children with a little bit of security in a stressful situation.

For more information about Project Linus, and how you can help, call Mercer at (615) 785-2724.

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I belong to a group that have blankets that we'd love to get to needy kids in Japan. Would love to know how Ms. Mercer accomplished getting her blankets to Japan. Please let me know. Thanks!

-- Posted by ymscoyle on Fri, Mar 25, 2011, at 8:15 PM

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