Every time Christine Newby holds an event for Project Linus, she can always depend on Medical College of Georgia students to lend a helping hand.
Newby, who has been Project Linus’ chapter coordinator for Burke, Columbia, Jefferson, Lincoln, McDuffie and Richmond counties since November 2018, has nothing but praise for the students who take time out of their schedules to be a “blanketeer.”
“Many students consistently come to our blanket making day every month,” Newby said. “Not only do they show up, they work really hard at whatever task they take on … They have made hundreds of blankets for us to distribute.”
Two years ago, Newby entered the year with a goal of making 1,000 blankets, which was accomplished during the last week of the year. In 2020, during the pandemic, the community came together and made 3,502 blankets. This year, Project Linus’ goal is to continue to concentrate on school-aged children — many more of whom are now homeless because of the effects of COVID — with events like the one they had on campus March 2.
“We depend on the help of the MCG students, who have been so flexible and just as determined to make as many blankets as possible,” Newby said.
The MCG Community Service VPs have been working with Project Linus for the past three years, hosting a blanket-making event on campus. Current VP, Patrice Collins, said the events started with Shelby Howard, who is currently a fourth-year medical student, and has been carried on by current second-year students, Sarah Vick and Collins.
Jason Thomas, part of the Class of 2023, said he heard about Project Linus through MCG and has tried to participate once a month since he learned about them. Each time, he comes away impressed with what they are accomplishing around the area.
Thomas said he knows going into the medical field, he will help children who are sick feel better, but making blankets has been gratifying since he’s helping kids directly who need that kind of support.
He’s impressed by “the way the community gets together to help out the kids in need and by how many blankets get done by people getting together monthly, and also taking things home and bringing it back,” Thomas said.
Another member of the Class of 2023, Amanda Delgado, said the first time she heard about Project Linus was when the Class of 2022 discussed about how much fun it was to participate. She joined an event in March 2020 before the pandemic, and after coming back to campus this past August, has also been helping monthly.
Delgado is also impressed with the community response to the project.
“For me, it’s the community that comes out every time we do a project … I think it’s really impactful that everyone who comes out to these projects never actually sees the fruits of their labor — they never see the children actually holding the blankets — yet they’re still willing to dedicate so much time to such an impactful cause,” she said. “And so many like-minded people coming together for such an important cause, I think it’s something that draws me to keep coming back.”
Delgado said it’s a great privilege to lend a hand with Project Linus and she loves seeing all of her classmates come out with a smile on their faces, especially knowing how one blanket can make a difference in someone’s life.
“It’s incredible to hear the impact that we can make on children in need, hearing how it brightens someone’s day,” she said. “I think that this organization in particular is important when there’s a rise in mental health issues, especially in our younger populations. To be able to have that impact is really unique and important when it comes to Project Linus.”
When Newby goes out to events, she loves to brag about the MCG students. Aside from being dependable, “they are all extremely polite.”
“Many of our blanketeers are older women, and the students jump right in to help carry heavy items to and from their cars,” Newby said. “The generational respect is delightful to experience. And many middle school students from Beta Clubs come to earn community service hours. Many of them are tentative when they arrive, but I see them gravitating to the MCG students, who take them under their wing to help them feel comfortable.
“The MCG students exude an air of wanting to help in any way possible,” Newby added. “I ask blanketeers to make sure they are enjoying the task they are working on, as the joy and love of their work gets passed on to the child through that blanket.
“The students seem to enjoy every task. They jump in to learn new processes and have actually helped me document ‘how to’ guides. Several of them have become leaders that I send brand-new blanketeers to on blanket-making day, knowing that the ‘new person’ will be welcomed and helped to get started.”