August 29, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman

Ten members of the Fulton County Homemakers climbed aboard a van last week armed with 50 quilts that were bound for Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville.

For the past few years, the homemakers have been participating in Project Linus, a program that makes quilts for critically ill children. Over the years, they've cut, sewn and tacked more than 300 quilts.

This year, they made 100 of the colorful quilts. Of that total, 50 are destined for youngsters at the Louisville Kosair hospital and the other 50 are already being snuggled by children at the LeBonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis. This is the first time they've taken any to the Louisville facility because Memphis was nearer to the Fulton area.

Often the blankets are the only touch of color in an otherwise bright and sterile environment. "Having something homemade is a nice touch of humanity," said Sara Bogle, Fulton County Extension agent for family and consumer science.

To pay for materials, the group applied for a 2001 Kentucky Extension Homemakers grant and received $800. Prior to that, they had made the quilts from donated materials or materials members had purchased. But, the supplies had dwindled.

"I'm a homemaker and I just thought it would be something that would help somebody else," said Julia Davis. "They are so appreciative of it."

The quilts are a team effort with some people cutting the material, another sewing it together and someone else doing the quilting. Some people who aren't homemaker members but know about the project have made quilts for them as well.

Some of that help has come from the juvenile offenders program in the county. Working on the quilts has been used by the program as part of some of the juvenile's public service requirements.

"Most of them had never threaded a needle before," Bogle said. But, they pitched in and were able to help and even learn something in the process, she said.

Homemaker Beverly Bunch said they have gotten feedback on how pleased the families are to get them and how the children just take to them.

"Nothing at the hospital is like home to them," said Bunch. "So this is comfort... it's like with Linus and his blanket."

Bobbye Foster said it is amazing how the quilts come together. If something is a little unusual about the donated material, they purchase materials to match it, she said.

"It's very easy, very simple," she said.

And those quilts are definitely appreciated.

"These quilts are given to patients of any age or any size," said Brenda O'Bryan, Kosair's Volunteer Coordinator. "They brighten up the patients' rooms; they are used by new mothers taking their babies home for the first time; and they are used as blankets for children to cuddle as they have a procedure done.

"These quilts are filled with love and comfort for our patients," she said. "We appreciate all the hard work of the Fulton County Homemakers - special people who make our hospital such a special place."

Deborah Chyka, a registered nurse and volunteer in the intensive care unit at LeBonheur said the children there have often been torn away from their familiar surroundings.

"A bit of normalcy in the form of a soft, love-stitched quilt, can offer the child comfort," wrote Chyka, as part of the Homemakers grant application. It can also provide some comfort to the family as well.

Project Linus began in 1995 after Karen Loucks-Baker of Parker, Colo., saw a picture of a young cancer patient and her security blanket. A 1998 article in People Magazine about Loucks-Baker and Project Linus is what sparked the Fulton County Homemakers into action.

"Knowing that others care enough to share their time and talent with their child can provide just the right amount of hope to get them to the next day," notes Chyka.


Sara Bogle, (270) 554-9520