Students Sew Quilts For Cuddling

Students Sew Quilts For Cuddling

Enthusiasm was behind the West Springfield Elementary sixth graders project, quilting 70 blankets for Project Linus, a local charitable organization that donated the blankets to hospitals and homeless shelters around Northern Virginia. John Ponton, 11, experienced only one stumbling block with the project. At the table full of fellow sixth grade boys, John looked at the goal realistically.

"Not all of them but a good majority," they'd finish, with the toughest problem being "threading your needle."

The frayed yarn did not help. Volunteer parent Debbie Berkley looked at their progress after one hour.

"We're going to be doing this all weekend at home. Threading the needle, that's definitely killing our time," she said.

The quilts were made with donated fabric and fill material. The students cut the fabric and fill, matched the pieces and then volunteer parents sewed the border. The final step was a series of knots designed to hold the fabric and fill in place.

"In the washing machine, they would fall apart," said Mark Stader, 12, whose sewing skills date back to sewing costumes with his mother one Halloween and tying knots in Boy Scouts.

PROJECT LINUS is named after the Peanuts comic strip character "Linus," who was famous for toting his security blanket everywhere he went. In 1995, Karen Loucks started Project Linus after reading about a child getting the strength to get through chemotherapy with her security blanket. As of January 2002, Project Linus has delivered over 400,000 security blankets nationwide. There are 300 chapters in the United States, according to information on their Web Site. West Springfield sixth grade teacher Juneanne Demek was the driving force behind the project locally, which included students from Sue Ehlers and Julianna Griffin's class as well.

Jena Starr, 12, and Amy Horner, 11, had security in mind as they stitched away.

"When people are sad, sometimes they need a hug but if they don't have someone to hug them, they'll have this blanket," Jena said.

"They can curl up with something," Amy added.

Molly Castillo, 12, and Rachel Vandeveira, 11, listened to the "Grease" soundtrack and danced a little while doing their stitches.

"It makes it fun," Molly said.