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Blanket Calming

Churchill students launch Linus Club to knit blankets for children in need.

Churchill junior Cindy Kwan wanted to start a knitting and crocheting club at the beginning of this school year, but even she was surprised to see it catch on. Last fall, she helped found Churchill’s Linus Club, a student knitting and crocheting group with more than 40 members, and Kwan now sees students crocheting as she walks through the school halls.

“It’s actually bigger than I thought it would be,” Kwan said. “I thought people would think it’s grandmother-ish.”

Kwan and her fellow club members are knitting for a cause, too. Churchill’s Linus Club is part of Project Linus, an international nonprofit organization named for the Peanuts comic-strip character that donates hand-made blankets to children in hospitals and shelters. Kwan and her classmates Rachel Solnick, Kristin Anderson and Olivia Chang wanted to start a club, and contacted the Montgomery County chapter of Linus International.

“It seemed like a really good cause,” said Solnick. “I saw letters the nurses had written to the whole club … and how much happier the kids are with the blankets.”

Montgomery County chapter gave Anderson yarn, and with that, Churchill’s Linus Club was off and running.

MORE THAN HALF of the students in Churchill’s club didn’t know how to crochet at the beginning of the school year. They’ve learned from one another, and from Laura Rosen, a retired county English teacher who is a Project Linus member. At a recent club meeting, several students consulted a “Crocheting for Dummies” book in the class.

“They’re so willing to stick to it,” said Patricia Howe, a Churchill English teacher and staff sponsor of the group. “These who did not know how to do one stitch are now doing a beautiful job.”

Solnick likes crocheting because it’s a good way to relax, and she can do it while watching television. Anderson points out that students can also receive student service learning hours for the time they spend crocheting for a Linus Club blanket.

“It’s good to know for later in life,” Chang said. “When you get better at it, I guess you don’t have to focus as hard.”

Nearly all club members at Churchill are female, but the leaders want male students to know that they’re welcome — and that a crocheting hobby won’t slaughter their manhood. “A lot of guys do crocheting,” said Anderson. “My brothers and my dad do, and my brother drives a motorcycle.”

At club meetings, members decide on an overall look for a completed 4-foot by 6-foot blanket, then each student begins creating or knitting her own 9-by-9-inch patch. Anderson then crochets the 24 patches together in a single blanket — others will assume this responsibility as they become more skilled. “It’s really neat to see the progress you make,” said Solnick. “You can look at it and say, ‘Oh, that patch is mine.’”

At the end of the year, Churchill’s club members will donate all the completed blankets to terminally ill or traumatized children at the Children’s Inn at the National Institute of Health.

“We’re fulfilling a need to support something warm, comfortable and personal to children who are facing some really scary issues,” Howe said.