WASILLA — The Project Linus Alaska chapter recently received a donation from Sonja’s Studio of Performing Arts in the form of handmade blankets stitched with tender love and care.
Michelle Hoyt is the chapter coordinator for Project Linus efforts in Alaska. The recent donation stems from her 12-year-old niece Lindsey Sobbe’s avid involvement at Sonja’s Studio.
“She basically lives there,” Hoyt said with a laugh.
Hoyt said the studio purchased materials from JOANN Fabrics and Crafts so Sobbe and other girls in her class could craft blankets for Project Linus.
“Lindsey’s been collecting them because she goes to dance every day. She was just super excited to bring in fliers, talk to the girls about Project Linus and what it is, and the generous donations from the dance studio,” Hoyt said. “She’s really taken it upon herself to become involved in Project Linus and be a representative of the organization … I’m very proud of her.”
Sobbe said that she’s been helping out since she was young and wants to keep contributing to the program because of how much it means to her “Auntie” and how much it means to the children receiving the blankets.
“I like Project Linus because it gives back to the community. Anybody can make a blanket and give a child something he or she can always smile at,” Sobbe said.
Project Linus is a national organization with chapters across the country dedicated to providing blankets made by volunteer “blanketeers” to provide a sense of comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Its namesake comes from Charlie Brown’s blue blanket bearing friend Linus from the “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles M. Schulz.
Hoyt said that she established Alaska’s sole chapter in 2006. She said that she has a lot of help from her immediate family and a generous pool of donors and volunteers across the state. She said this mission is near and dear to her heart.
“My daughter was born in 2004 and passed away. She received a blanket at the hospital and we couldn’t figure out a way to remember her, and so I found Project Linus and jumped in on it. The time I spent with Project Linus is the time I would have spent with her,” Hoyt said. “I’ve been very excited to continue the work of the organization here in Alaska, to bring joy to children in times of need… It’s just helpful for me to be able to bring joy to other people who might have a dark time in their life.”
According to Hoyt, all local donations stay in Alaska, helping children across the state. She said they received just under 300 blankets last year, bringing them to over 3,500 total donations since the chapter was established.
Hoyt works with businesses, senior centers, nonprofits, and community groups like local scout troops to donate their time and resources for the program. She said that she has a statewide network of quilters guilds readily supplying handmade blankets each year.
According to Hoyt, their program was going great until it was slowed down by the pandemic. She said that things have picked up and recent gusts of wind in their sails like this recent collaboration with Sonja’s Studio and hearing stories of how much their efforts mean to Alaskan families encourages her to keep working to grow and expand the program each year.
“It definitely helps motivate to know this blanket someone else made with love went to somebody that made their day and continues to make their day,” Hoyt said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org