By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
Edgewater Public School 4-H Club members learned compassion as they worked on a quilt destined for Project Linus.
"Each club member created a square to add to the quilt," said Jama Boden, Edgewater Public School 4-H Leader.
The children worked on the quilt squares for several weeks during last school year and gave each one their own personal touch, according to Ms. Boden.
"To create individual squares, we studied Gyotaku, the art of Japanese fish printing," Ms. Boden said. "Our club members had fun discussing the origin of the art form and watching video demonstrations."
The students used flexible fish replicas to paint the fabric and create the fish designs. A local volunteer sewed the squares together into a quilt top for the children, she said. They placed the quilt top over the cotton batting on top of the quilt back and pinned the three layers together.
"We then used a tie-quilting technique to secure the front, batting and back together," Ms. Boden said.
Everyone in the club had a hand in the creation of the quilt and putting it together.
"The club members loved the completed quilt, but were more than willing to donate it to the Linus Foundation," Ms. Boden said. "They expressed such sincere thoughtfulness about donating their quilt to a child in need."
At the May 30 4-H meeting, just before the end of the school year, the club presented the quilt to the representatives of the local Project Linus chapter, Joanna Robins and Nancy Unger.
Project Linus is a non-profit organization, dedicated to "Providing Security Through Blankets," for ill or traumatized children and teens, according to its mission statement. Most of those receiving quilts are seriously ill or have life-threatening diseases, or they are homeless, in shelters or hospice care.
Project Linus was founded in 1995 by Karen Louks and has donated nearly 4.5 million handmade blankets to comfort children in need. Ms. Louks got the name from the Peanuts character, Linus, who always carried a security blanket in the comic strip by Charles Schultz. Ms. Louks was inspired to create the organization when she saw a picture of a three-year-old cancer patient clutching a security blanket.
There are more than 368 chapters across the United States, and accept donations of handmade quilts and blankets from people from all walks of life. The blankets are knitted, crocheted, piece-work quilts, tied fleece with fringes or other construction, but all of them are created by hand and donated to the organization. "Our blankets are lovingly made by adults and children from all walks of life and many different sources," according to the website projectlinus.org.
They are always looking for volunteers to help coordinate a chapter or participate in a local chapter or donate handmade blankets. They call their volunteers "Blanketeers." All blankets must be handmade, washable, free of pins and come from smoke-free environments (due to allergy reasons).
Information on the local chapter in Volusia County can be found at freewebs.com/floridalinus/index.htm. Volunteers are needed to not only help create the quilts, but also to collect and distribute the blankets and assist with special blanket-making events local chapters hold throughout the year. Learning about and being part of project Linus was a great experience for the 4-H club members, according to Ms. Boden.
The participating students at Edgewater Public School are members of a local 4-H chapter. "4-H is a national organization that is more than 100 years old," according to the Edgewater 4-H Club's web page. "Though 4-H originally focused on building members' knowledge of agriculture and home economics, it now encompasses a wide variety of activities and educational opportunities for members. Unlike Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, 4-H clubs are made up of both girl and boy members."
The 4 H's in the cloverleaf emblem stand for Head, Heart, Health and Hands.
Members of 4-H traditionally raise livestock or flowers and vegetables to compete in county fairs and to learn the process of raising and growing their chosen animal or plant. They also learn a variety of arts, crafts and sciences depending on their interests and their local chapter's focus and leadership goals. The green four-leaf clover emblem with the white H's is one of the oldest nationally recognized emblems for youth activities. "The white in the 4-H flag symbolizes purity. The green, nature's most common color, is emblematic of life, springtime, and youth," states 4-H policies.
"During the 2012-2013 school year, members of our club have participated in a wide variety of activities, including creating a quilt to donate to the Linus Project, making bean bags, learning to crochet, baking projects, learning about goats, showing goats at the Volusia County Fair, egg decoration, making crafts, playing games, learning about the Japanese art of fish printing and baking," Ms. Boden said.
For the new school year, Ms. Boden is sure to offer some new and interesting challenges for the students in keeping with 4-H values.
"Club members are always welcome to participate in any 4-H activities at the county and state level, such as archery, air rifle, Share the Fun, camping, competing at the state fair, marine science and mock legislature," she said encouragingly.
For more information, call Ms. Boden at the school at (386) 424-2573, Ext. 35252.