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‘A hug when it’s needed the most’

Maris Grove’s Blanket Circle creates blankets for children in need

Created date

March 14th, 2017
Maris Grove Blanket Circle members (from left) Patty Obrecht, Frankie Moses, Pat Borjes, and Irene Woznicki display some of the 2,109 comfy coverings the group produced for Project Linus last year.

Maris Grove Blanket Circle members (from left) Patty Obrecht, Frankie Moses, Pat Borjes, and Irene Woznicki display some of the 2,109 comfy coverings the group produced for Project Linus last year.

Frankie Moses’ apartment home at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Frankie prefers to take showers, but that doesn’t mean her bathtub goes unused. 

Frankie, who cochairs Maris Grove’s Blanket Circle, fills her tub with bolts of fleece the group uses to make blankets for Project Linus. 

Drawing on experience she’d gained coordinating a national Project Linus chapter in Florida, Frankie started Maris Grove’s group in 2008. 

The group’s 140 “blanketeers” crochet lacy edging around blanket-sized pieces of fleece and make knitted or crocheted afghans. They infuse every item with love.

The group’s dual mission includes 1) creating blankets to offer comfort and a sense of security to area children who are seriously ill, abused, and/or physically or mentally fragile, 2) and fostering friendship and a spirit of caring among its own members. 

Due to the many Head Start centers in Delaware and Chester counties, Maris Grove’s blanketeers make blankets for children from birth through third grade.

Many hands make light work

The Blanket Circle is a dedicated, well-organized, and efficient group. 

After Frankie and cochair Pat Borjes purchase multiple bolts of patterned fleece and colorful skeins of yarn, an assembly line of members takes over. 

Four days a week, Patty Obrecht cuts the fleece into blanket-size pieces, 100 pieces each week. On Sunday afternoons, the group’s “holy rollers” roll and weigh lengths of yarn into two-ounce balls. Pat Borjes assembles the yarn and fleece into blanket kits. 

Weekly workshop meetings in Maris Grove’s Cardinal Clubhouse creative arts studio bring members together. While newbies learn to knit or crochet, veterans turn in completed blankets and pick up kits to make more.

Each kit contains materials for one blanket or afghan. Because the group is self-funded, members don’t pay for the kits. But year-round, its clever crafters make items to sell at Maris Grove’s October craft fair and at other campus venues. Those sales fund all the supplies.

The group keeps records of every blanket produced. Irene Woznicki, who makes blankets and afghans both, is the group’s statistician. After she records the blanketeers names, the sizes and types of blankets, and the patterns of knitted afghans, that information is entered onto a spreadsheet. 

“If I didn’t have those records,” Frankie says, “I wouldn’t know what we’d accomplished.” 

Last year alone, the group produced 2,109 blankets. From 2008 through December 2016, they had donated 11,130 blankets. 

“When members know how many items we’ve made, that’s great encouragement,” says Pat.

Encouragement also comes in the form of thank you notes. Each item goes out with a Blanket Circle card bearing the name of its maker. Irene has kept every one of the personal notes she’s received back. 

While some blankets and afghans go to local hospitals and Birthright chapters, many go to Head Start classrooms. 

For Head Start, the group chooses appropriately patterned fleece blankets to correspond to the number of girls and boys in each classroom. 

“We have so many wonderful fleece patterns that we also make sure there are no duplicates,” says Patty. “That way each child feels they’ve received a blanket just for them.”

As the Blanket Circle says in its brochure, “A Project Linus blanket is like a hug when it’s needed the most.”