EXETER — When Kate Menta’s daughter Sofia was born six weeks premature, she received a homemade blanket from an anonymous donor.
Right before her third birthday, Sofia again received a blanket after having her tonsils and adenoids removed, which prompted Menta to ask where they were coming from.
That’s when she learned about Project Linus, a national non-profit organization that collects new, homemade, washable blankets and distributes them to children up to age 18 who are in hospitals, shelters or foster care.
Menta did research on the organization and made a promise she would find a way to return the favor.
On Tuesday, March 15, she kept her word.
Menta used her position as co-advisor of the Wyoming Area Builders Club, in which seventh and eighth grade students perform community service, to give back to Project Linus.
“I always said I wanted to give back, but I never knew how to make a blanket until I recently taught myself,” she said. “At first I bought one of those kits because it’s supposed to be easy, but it’s not bad. The quality wasn’t good, so I just decided to go get fabric, looked up directions online and thought it was pretty easy.”
The Builders Club, which includes over 120 members, combined efforts with the Wyoming Area Key Club, Kiwanis Club and Wyoming Area Catholic Builders Club and made 120 blankets for Project Linus.
Even Sofia, now 8 years old and a student at Sarah J. Dymond Elementary School, got in on the project.
According to Holly Ostopick, coordinator of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Project Linus Chapter, it was another case of everything coming full circle in which someone who received a blanket helps make blankets.
“We know very few of the stories, but man, the ones that we do know, it keeps us going,” said Ostopick. “It’s happened several times. I work with a Girl Scout troop in Tunkhannock and a couple girls have said they’ve received blankets.”
Community members donated fabric for the Builders Club to use or money to help Menta purchase fabric.
Some volunteers on hand already knew how to sew, while others learned on the fly.
“A couple students already knew how to make (blankets) because some made them in the past,” said Menta. “I knew how to make them, I brought my mom who knows how to do it, Holly from Project Linus knows how, and I taught my poor husband so I could drag him into this.”
Eighth grade student Marissa Kovaleski was in the middle of making her second blanket for the night said she picked up how to make them very quickly.
“This is my first time making a blanket or sewing anything really,” she said. “It’s easier than I thought.”
The 13-year-old student’s goal was to make three or four blankets, and she was confident she would reach that personal goal.
As far as the overall goal of the Builders Club, Kovaleski said she couldn’t be happier with how everyone was pitching in for a good cause.
“I’m so glad that I’m capable to be helping these kids,” she said. “Just doing anything I can to help is a good thing to me.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher