When it comes to caring, volunteers have it covered

OCAL VOLUNTEERS HAVE produced some 1,200 blankets to be donated to hospitalized children this year, far exceeding last year's total of 680.
"There are a lot of children that do need these, and they are going to good causes and they are appreciated," said Linda Fabrizio, manager of the Domestic Sewing Center, a sewing supply shop in Waren, which is the local sponsor of the national effort, known as Project Linus.
In a yearlong effort, hundreds of volunteers make the blankets at home or in a group that meets from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at the shop at 2011 Youngstown Road S.E. The shop, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in business, has sponsored the project locally for the past four years.
Volunteers were busy Tuesday at the sewing center as they labeled and folded the blankets for shipment to Tod Children's Hospital, St. Joseph Health Center and Forum Health Trumbull Memorial Hospital. "We wanted to make sure that these blankets stayed locally," Fabrizio said.
'Peanuts' character
The 11-year-old Project Linus, which is based in Bloomington, Ill., is named after Linus -- the "Peanuts" comic strip character who carries a security blanket. The blanket labels feature Linus and say, "Made with Tender Loving Care for Project Linus, Providing Security Through Blankets. www.projectlinus.org"
The project accepts new handmade washable blankets in all sizes, which can be quilted, tied, knitted, crocheted or fleece. Churches and Girl Scout troops assist with the local effort, Fabrizio said.
The shop can accommodate more volunteer blanket-makers and needs more donated fabric and batting for the project, she added.
"When we started reading some of the thank you letters that were coming through, we couldn't sew fast enough because we saw such a need in this area," Fabrizio said, adding that last year's blankets have all been given away.
This year's leading local volunteer is Johnnie Provitt of Howland, who made 413 blankets for the project.
Giving back
Provitt said she began working with the project after her daughter, Natasha Daniels, died of a heart attack Nov. 15, 2004, a week before her 40th birthday. "To me, it's one way of dealing with my pain and giving back to others," she said.
"When you do for others, it's always rewarding," said Provitt, a Delphi Packard Electric retiree.
Fabrizio concluded: "It's just a mission that we all have, that we want to really extend our hearts and our hands for the kids."

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