Many have asked, “What is Project Linus?” Project Linus was started in the mid-1990s to help children (up to age of 18) who have been traumatized by a wide range of losses. The mission of Project Linus is, in part, to “provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer blanketeers.” As you might have guessed, the name of the project was inspired by a certain beloved cartoon child who is never without his blanket. There are currently 20 chapters in California alone, and many chapters nationwide.
The members make quilts for these children. If you are unable to quilt, you can knit or crochet a blanket, and if you cannot do any of those, you can tie knots to fringe soft fabric. The younger children love the fringed items. On the back of each blanket is a tag with a beautiful poem attached, which finishes with:
“So dry your tears and smile a smile
You aren’t alone, you see.
You have this special blanket,
You have a part of me.”
— Pam Braden
Twenty years ago, when Chief Michel Moore was the commanding officer of operations at Valley Bureau, he appointed me to be the Department’s liaison with Project Linus. He saw the importance of the mission, knowing these keepsakes would bring comfort to grieving children. The blankets are always at the annual Sunshine Kids event and are warmly received. When the shooting took place at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita in November 2019, local Project Linus chapters donated hundreds of blankets. Commander Carlos Marquez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department called me following the tragedy, asking for every blanket that we had on hand. We arranged to deliver them immediately.
To date, the San Fernando Valley women who make these beautiful blankets have made more than 66,000, all at their own expense! Pretty darn amazing, if I do say so myself. (Nationally, 8.6 million blankets have been made to date.) Even though I have retired from the LAPD Reserve Corps, I continue to provide quilts to any division that has a need, as well as to the CHP and Sheriff’s Department. I am proud to be a part of this great project.
Editor’s note: Officer Gifis retired from the Reserve Corps in 2020 after 30 years of service; her last assignment was Valley Traffic. For more information on Project Linus, go to www.projectlinus.org.