Mrs. Scharding's 8th grade Family and Consumer Sciences classes recently made quilts for Project Linus, benefiting small children in need. The following article about the project was written by student Owen Taylor.
Family & Consumer Sciences Students sew for Project Linus
Written by Owen Taylor Grade 8
In Family and Consumer Sciences, Chartiers Valley Middle School, period four, as well as other eighth grade classes, there is a group of students, toiling away every day they are in the class for 40 straight minutes, working on a light relaxing yellow, cool light blue, and patterned fabric with stars, moons, and sheep, with comfort and warmth, and hearty kindness seamlessly integrated into every stitch sewn into a 29x32in blanket made exactly for a small child in need. These are exactly the kind of things Project Linus asks for, to “Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer blanketeers.” To our teacher, Mrs. Paula Scharding, sewing isn’t really just a graded class where a student needs to fill out papers with brainwashed memorized answers and fill out the mold, with basic proving of the amount of knowledge and the type of skill required to pass the class.
To not only Mrs. Scharding, but the whole class, this project means a lot because even if sewing is not enjoyable to some of the students, or if some of the students don't get along, they can put the work they do in class to good use, they can spend their time, on others, earning a grade as a side endeavor, with the real reason of the whole project to give back to the community in new ways, all the while learning a skill. A small blanket for an infant or newborn may not seem like much, but it will not only be the thing that they can hold onto in fear of the monsters that lurk outside of the vision of men, in the darkness and shadows of night, but it is something they can use to come to terms with the true darkness in hearts of those that walk past them, ignoring their troubles and need. This blanket, may not seem like much, but it will keep one child warm in the night, and happy knowing that there is a group of students out there that cared for their safety, and their happiness, and their warmth. It may just be a blanket, but its a loving hug they can have every night, knowing that others care for them. This blanket could really change a life, it could be the blanket the next Stephen Hawking carries around until he is much too old to be doing so.
The blanket was made, initially with a pattern drawn on a piece of paper, then specific sized squares of printed as well as solid flannel fabric was cut. These were then pinned, and sewn together in a specific order to create a checkerboard aesthetic to the blanket, being ironed in between each section being created, as they were made by pairs of five, into individual rectangles, and once each set was finished, the sets were sewn together one by one into rows to complete the top half of the blanket. Then batting was sandwiched between the top half, and an equivalently sized solid sharing the same color as some of the pattern on the front, and sewn with the machine. Then with the final hole at the bottom area of the flannel, the two edges were hand sewn together. The quilt was hand tied with knots at each intersection. Finally washed and ironed before it reaches its final owner. The blanket took roughly two months of class time, it was a large project taking up nearly the entirety of the class, with a lot of heart, effort, and time going into finishing the blanket, as well as a lot of thread.
“A special “blankie” has helped Laura, 3, get through more than two years of intensive chemotherapy. She takes it to the hospital with her when she goes for treatment. When she was first diagnosed, 97 percent of her bone marrow contained cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy has helped eradicate the cancer, she has had to endure nausea, high fevers and the loss of her hair. An allergic reaction at one point caused her to lose vital signs.” This was a young child around the age of five, that went through the horrors and tragedies of contracting cancerous cells, that somehow managed to find light in the hopelessly dark and painful hospital room. She received solace and comfort with her blanket, lovingly given to her. When surviving, sometimes all it takes to pull through the next operation is the will to live, and really this blanket played a huge part in the dark nights in a hospital bed, scary walks through the poorly lit hallways to get a drink, and terrifying large covered men operating on a young innocent child just in need of something small and comforting. Now this may not be the most attractive for potential volunteers, but a part of the mission of Project Linus is to provide an enjoyable and comforting activity for volunteers to sit in peace and quiet or have calm conversation with others, losing themselves in the activity of piecing together these meaningful blankets. A student in one of the class’s has a particularly meaningful connection to the blanket. The student, wishing to remain anonymous, had a distant relative that was taken into an organization seeking to help children with deadly diseases, and she received a blanket similar to this one, comforting her in the time of need.
View photos from Project Linus on Flickr >>