The Tufts chapter of Project Linus — a national organization that makes and donates blankets for children in intensive care units (ICU), suffering from chronic illness or undergoING general crises — held a spring raffle to raise funds for the organization from April 6-9 in Dewick-MacPhie Dining Center.
According to Co-Founder and Co-President of Project Linus at Tufts Corinne Zahlis, the group was able to raise $180 through the raffle. Some of the prizes for the raffle included two tickets to the Somerville Theatre, a gift basket of assorted comics and four tickets to the Museum of Science’s Charles Hayden Planetarium.
Zahlis, a senior, said that the raffle is an annual tradition to raise money as a supplement to the organization’s budget provided by the Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS).
“We generally do a raffle every year, because unlike other clubs [in LCS] that center around physical volunteering, we just create products,” she said. “We try to raise other funds in order to buy more fabric and make more blankets. We are not a group that can work with kids in the moment and can’t really sit with kids in the ICU.”
Zahlis added that the blankets can serve an important purpose for the children who receive them.
“It’s something that provides a little bit of comfort in a somewhat awful situation,” she said. “I received a Project Linus blanket seven years ago and still sleep with it on my bed here every night because, for me, it was really special to be able to take it home. Getting my blanket had an impact on me as an individual, and so I just want to make sure other children in need are given that opportunity to receive a blanket.”
Co-President of Project Linus at Tufts Stacy Weng agreed, underscoring that the blankets they produce can provide a sense of security.
“I think the blankets are very versatile,” Weng, a junior, said. “You can take it with you pretty much anywhere you’re traveling … Also, the blankets are very soft and cuddly, and that’s the comfort we are going for when we make these blankets because we want people to feel secure when they hold that kind of object.”
Heather Thompson, who is in charge of fundraising at Project Linus, explained that children staying in an ICU can choose from a variety of blankets with different designs and colors to suit their preferences. She added that the group makes blankets using the cut and tie method with quality fleece.
“We like to pick out a variety of fun prints that would fit a variety of children based on their personalities,” Thompson, a senior, said. “Someone can have little robots on their blankets or, for some, just floral designs or abstract colors.”
Zahlis explained that although Project Linus at Tufts is relatively new to campus — it was founded in 2013 — the group has grown steadily in student involvement. She noted that various culture houses and Greek houses on campus have invited Project Linus to make blankets at events.
“We are just trying to be more and more apparent on campus,” she said. “So doing the little activities with these groups is fun for getting the word out [about Project Linus] to those communities.”
Members of Project Linus meet on Tuesdays in the Crane Room to make blankets, and meetings are open to all members of the Tufts community, according to Thompson. She added that one or two people can easily make a couple of blankets in one session.
For Thompson, the tangible results of their work are some of the most gratifying aspects of being part of the organization.
“We can see tangibly what we just gave our time and effort … to,” she said. “I think it’s a great service opportunity because you can hold in your hands what you’re giving to another person. That’s an instant reward for you, rather than a big picture. It’s very much what one person could do for another person.”
Weng agreed, emphasizing the results-based nature of the process.
“I feel like with this kind of project, it’s very much tangible, and you know where it’s going and how it’s going to help somebody else,” she said. “It’s also a real stress-reliever when you have a lot of things to do, just to take an hour and clear your mind of everything while still knowing that you’re putting your time to a good cause.”