Happiness is a warm quilt from Linus Project

EVERETT — There’s a lot going on at the home of Diane Campbell, where she and volunteers make quilts as the Snohomish County chapter of Project Linus.

“Is this for a boy or a girl?” A volunteer holds up a colorful quilt and turns to face Campbell. “That’s for a boy,” she says.

Someone else notices a small glitch with the old sewing machine in another room.

“Time to go get the boss,” Colleen Van Beek tells another volunteer.

The phone rings, and the person on the other end is calling from the Brier Library. There’s space to show some quilts in the library’s glass case.

Campbell promises to bring some by soon.

Project Linus is a nonprofit where volunteers make blankets for children facing a loss, sickness or a traumatic event. As the Snohomish County chapter’s coordinator, Campell stays plenty busy.

A lifelong quilter, Campbell started her involvement with the national nonprofit in a King County Chapter almost 10 years ago after she attended a Make a Blanket Day at Pacific Fabrics in Everett. She told Van Beek, who is her aunt, about Project Linus and the two began attending work days, helping to make blankets at a coordinator’s home in Bellevue.

“I went and boy did I get hooked,” Van Beek said. “It’s fun, it becomes an obsession.”

Campbell’s involvement with the project grew and she eventually started the Snohomish County chapter of Project Linus in 2004.

She hosts work parties at her home twice a month where a group of volunteers take over corners of rooms to sew, pin, inspect and sort pieces of fabric, quilts, afghans and fleece blankets.

Once the blankets have been approved by the volunteers, they’re washed, folded and taken to local hospitals where they can be given to children in need of some comfort.

“The majority of our blankets stay right here in Snohomish County,” Campbell said.

Blankets often go to children in foster care, she said. The largest blankets are given to children who are grieving the loss of loved ones at Providence Hospice of Snohomish County’s Camp Erin.

Occasionally, Campbell said, the chapter will also donate blankets to children involved in disasters like Hurricane Katrina or floods in other counties.

“When there were floods in Thurston County I took about 50 blankets and then called a couple of the other chapters,” Campbell said. “I ended taking about 150 blankets down.”

About 50 people participate in the chapter, she said. Different groups, including churches, Scouts, schools and a group from the Monroe Correctional Complex make blankets and donate them to the chapter.

The chapter is one of more than 375 nationwide. In 2008, Snohomish County volunteers delivered 1,370 blankets. The total for 2009 was the largest yet at 1,774 blankets, Campbell said.

“It’s just a really good feeling,” she said. “You just feel good that you’re helping a child, giving them something that is theirs that they can hang onto and wrap themselves unconditionally in.”

Project Linus fabric and quilting supplies have taken over much of Campbell’s house.

She calls one room the “fabric room” in which shelves hold fabrics sorted by color and style. Bags and piles of fabric are below a work table in Campbell’s kitchen and another table in her living room. Quilt kits and batting fill a bathtub and a shower. She hopes someone will donate or share a heated space to store more supplies soon.

Campbell’s dedication doesn’t go unnoticed by the volunteers she has become friends with over many work days.

“On a work day everyone says, ‘Diane, can you help me?’ She’s here and there,” said Carol Watson, a volunteer from Marysville. “If we don’t have anything going on here she’s out teaching a class, she’s at a school or setting up a display at the library.”

Campbell and other volunteers taught her how to sew, cut and iron quilts, Madeline King of Lynnwood said.

“I’ve been getting better and showing off the quilts that I finish,” King said.

There are jobs for volunteers who are just learning to quilt and those who have been quilting all of their lives, Campbell said.

“People can be as challenged as they want or sew simple squares together,” she said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491, adaybert@heraldnet.com.

Yes, you can help

For more information about volunteering with the Snohomish County chapter of Project Linus or donating blankets, fabric, sewing machines and other quilting material, call Diane Campbell at 425-252-4524 or e-mail SnohomishCoLinus@aol.com.

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