HIAWATHA, Iowa - Every year around this time, Erin Chalupa and her husband start turning fabric into blankets, for the annual gathering of the local chapter of Project Linus. That's a national organization that donates blankets and quilts to children in hospitals and treatment centers.
"The first year we did 45, I think, and then usually we do about 30 a year," said Chalupa.
The passing of their 18 month-old son Linus is why they're here.
"Our son loved having a blue blanket also, and he went everywhere with it, so it's kind of cute that he did that," Chalupa told us.
Linus died on February 11th, so this event gives them something to look forward to this time of year. "It makes me happy to know I'm doing something in honor of him."
The Chalupas are joined by friends, family, and other volunteers from around eastern Iowa.
"We cover Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, and we also take them to Manchester and Anamosa," said Mary Beth Stark. "Some of these ladies have been doing this for 8 years."
If you can tie a knot, or put a needle through fabric, you can help. Stark said these handmade creations will go to hospitals, shelters, and treatment centers, to kids who deserve smiles on their faces.
"Kids get attached to their blankets, it's just something to make them feel more comfortable in a strange place," Stark told me.
Sometimes the blankets donated to the group are only half-finished. But Stark said with so many experienced hands and feet working the machines, they get done one way or another.
"If people are happy, and they want to make one blanket that's fine, if they want to make 100 blankets that's fine."