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Volunteers Stitch Love into Every Blanket

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HIAWATHA, Iowa Blankets of every shape, size and color could be found at the Community of Christ Church on Saturday.

The annual Project Linus blanket-making event brought out dozens of volunteers to sew blankets for children.

Project Linus is a national organization with a local chapter, and it makes blankets for kids in need. Some go to area hospitals for sick kids, others go to non-profits in Eastern Iowa.

The hum of sewing machines and the buzz of volunteers created the perfect pattern for a busy day. Participants worked for hours to create as many blankets as possible.

"We have different folks doing different things," said Project Linus Organizer Kimberly McGuire. "We have a couple tables where people are tying blankets together that have already been sewn together."

"You just put the strips together," said Helen Kurth.

People of every age set aside time to get involved. Kurth, 94, of Coggon, has been sewing blankets for as long as she can remember.

"My first one I did when I graduated from high school in 1936," Kurth said.

For the Chalupa family, however, the event was about much more than just the blankets.

"Our son, who was named Linus, passed away five years ago and we decided we wanted to do something to memorialize him each year," said Erin Chalupa.

Linus died from a food allergy when he was only 18 months old.

"He passed away on February 11, so it's (Project Linus) is always the third weekend in February they do this, so it's a perfect time to honor him," Erin Chalupa said.

The family said they couldn't think of a better way to honor little Linus than by helping with Project Linus.

"This distracts us from feeling negative and we feel really positive about this," Erin Chalupa said.

It's their small way of giving back that has a big impact. By the end of the day with all of the volunteers, dozens of blankets were ready to go home with children in Eastern Iowa.

"I enjoy just being with the people and having it be about a sense of community and people willing to help children that are in need," McGuire said.

Organizers pointed out that volunteers came from all over to take part in the event, including Waterloo, Grinnell, Anamosa and Cedar Rapids.

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