Cathie Athans doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Along with more than a dozen residents and team members at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, Athans has a goal of making 100 fleece blankets for local children as part of Project Linus.
Project Linus is a national nonprofit organization that operates hundreds of chapters throughout the United States. Its mission is to provide love, comfort and a sense of security to children who are involved in a traumatic situation.
The Central Valley-based chapter, which includes The Blanketeers of TSJG, distributes fleece blankets to rescue and relief centers, police departments and hospitals like Valley Children’s Healthcare, Kaweah Delta Health Care District and Community Regional Medical Center (including the Leon S. Peters Burn Center).
It also disperses blankets to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Central Valley, The Salvation Army, Terry’s House, Breaking the Chains, the Barbara Saville Women’s Shelter, American Red Cross and the Holy Cross Center for Women at Saint Agnes Medical Center.
The Blanketeers consists of residents from the three assisted-living facilities, the Tivoli, the Antonella and the Tulipano, and the memory care center, the Grove.
Athans has lived at TSJG for less than nine months. She says being part of “The Blanketeers” ignites camaraderie among residents and team members. The 95-year-old retired nurse is joined by Melba Skiles, Janice Neary, Barbara Turner, Marydell Quist, Margie Cobb, Juanella Fairbank, Evah Dunning, Sue White and Mary Duke.
“Melba is very talented,” Athans says of her background in interior design.
Jessica Stepp is the lifestyle enrichment coordinator for the assisted-living facilities.
In late 2015, Stepp formed The Blanketeers as a service-learning project for TSJG. Last year, The Blanketeers made 40 fleece blankets for the Fresno Police Department.
“They were very touched, very proud,” Stepp says of The Blanketeers when they made the delivery to Hope Lutheran Church, the drop-off site near TSJG.
The need for blankets is “extreme in the Central Valley,” Stepp says.
Blankets are made from two 4 1/2 -foot- long pieces of fabric that are placed on top of each other. Stepp cuts the edges into 4-inch long strips.
Residents, with help from team members, tie the edges of the top and bottom pieces of fabric to make knots.
“They have fun, they get to spend time with team members,” Stepp says.
The Blanketeers meets on a weekly basis, rotating among the assisted-living facilities and the memory care center.
Larissa Badertscher, the lifestyle enrichment coordinator for the memory care center, joins Stepp on trips to buy fleece at a local craft store. They select an assortment of prints and designs that will interest children.
▪ If you’d like to make a monetary donation to The Blanketeers, contact Stepp at (559) 430-8258.
The Central Valley-based chapter: www.centralvalleyprojectlinus.org