For Jessica Dubiel, 17, of Mount Airy, making blankets for the sick isn’t just a labor of love, it’s a personal mission.
Jessica, a junior at South Carroll High School, lost her mother, Angie, about nine years ago to cervical cancer. Now, as president of the school’s Project Linus Club she honors her mother’s memory one stitch at a time.
The club of about 60 students is part of a national initiative in which members sew, crochet, quilt and make blankets for children who are seriously ill.
“I got to see a lot of kids that were sick [when my mom was], and the kids were younger than me,” Jessica said. “So it really means a lot to me that they are going to the hospital and people that need them.”
In the three years since Jessica joined the club her freshman year, she’s made about seven blankets.
Donations from the South Carroll group, which meets each week to work on their blankets, are given to patients at area hospitals, such as Carroll Hospital Center in Westminster, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center both in Baltimore.
“[The group] gives the students a way to think about someone other than themselves, to give back to the community and show that they care,” said Carmela Fiora, adviser of the group and family consumer sciences teacher at the school. “Their enthusiasm just doesn’t seem to stop.”
Each one of the donated blankets has a tag attached to it telling the owner that the blanket was made by the high school group, and students also are given the opportunity to write a personal note on their blanket tags when they finish.
Jessica said she still remembers the first blanket she made three years ago, a blue one that she sewed with pink trim and teddy bears on it.
“I worked on it for almost the whole year,” she said. “It felt really good when I [donated] it.”
Project Linus has been a part of the school for about 10 years. The project was given its name in reference to the Peanuts comic strip character Linus who was known for carrying a blanket with him everywhere.
Last year the group made 44 blankets and had about 12 student members.
With their increased number this year, the group hopes to make 100 blankets by the end of the school year, Fiora said. As of Dec. 4, they had finished about 50.
Much of the supplies needed to make the blankets are donated by those in the school community.
Michelle Canaziri, 16, of Mount Airy said she didn’t know much about making blankets when she first joined the club three years ago. Now, as vice president of the group, she’s made about seven blankets and is learning how to crochet this year.
Michelle said she even makes blankets outside of the club.
“It’s really cool,” she said. “You learn a lot of new things.”
Fiora said that she’s “extraordinarily proud” of her students and their efforts.
“It’s been heart-warming and overwhelming,” she said. “It’s been wonderful for them and for me.”