Project Linus

Margaret Buckler Carroll County Middle School (Family and Consumer Science), Carroll County

In 8th grade Family and Consumer Science, we create a rag blanket. Students sew squares of fabric and batting together.  These panels are then sewn together and fringed to create the blanket.  The finished blanket is donated to Carroll County Project Linus.

Best Practice 1: Meet a recognized need in the community

Every day there are hundreds of babies, children, and teens that are traumatized or sick.  Project Linus is a national nonprofit organization with local chapters around the state of Maryland that collects and delivers new blankets to children who are sick or traumatized.  Every citizen is invited to create a blanket through any means (sew, knit, crochet) and donate it to his/her local Project Linus chapter.

Project Linus blankets are sent to hospitals in Carroll County, Baltimore City and County, and Pennsylvania.  They are also sent to the Carroll County Social Services, Olivia's House (for abused children), and other organizations that request them.  Recently, blankets were sent to alleviate the suffering caused by the tsunami diseaster and a school shooting.  Blankets were also sent to Washington D.C. to be given to children who lost loved ones in Iraq. 

Best Practice 2: Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning

One half of the Family and Consumer Science's 8th grade curriculum deals with the individual and society.  As part of this curriculum, each student works on a service-learning project.  Not only do students learn about the need for blankets in our community, they also learn practical applications of cutting, pinning, and sewing. My students create an individual panel that is sewn into the rag blanket.  With this system, we can create about 20 blankets per quarter.

Best Practice 3: Reflect throughout the service-learning experience

Individual thank you cards are received, distributed to the students, and reflected upon.  Students who are particularly interested in service are invited to come during their lunch period and assist me in creating more rag blankets.

Best Practice 4: Develop student responsibility

A few students in 2004, Alicia Kremer, Jaimie Cordery and Chardaye Matthews-Page, organized the blanket design and construction of two special blankets for two their 8th grade classmates who were experiencing tragedy in their lives.  These students also took an active part in assisting other students in creating the individual blanket squares.

Best Practice 5: Establish community partnerships

Our primary partner is Project Linus but we work with local businesses as well.  We use thread from Land's End and fabric from Wal Mart in Westminster.  We also hold a supply drive and use fabric collected in the drive.  Since the materials needed for the rag blankets are essentially scraps, we also used leftover batting from a Make a Difference Day project where volunteers came and made blankets.  

Best Practice 6: Plan ahead for service-learning

A group of students are selected to lead certain aspects of the project and be special helpers.  I discuss the expectations with those students and teach them the stitch so they can help others.  Students create an action plan to complete both their panel as well as stitch together blanket parts created by other students. 

Best Practice 7: Equip students with knowledge and skills needed for service

The students gain an understanding and appreciation for the challenges experienced by children who are sick or traumatized.  The students study what organizations are available in Carroll County to help those who are in need.  They also gain valuable hands-on experience with cutting, pinning, hand and machine sewing.