Originally created 07/20/00

Blankets give children security



When Katrina Dowds grows up, she will have a pink crocheted reminder of a night her parents will never forget.

The 2-year-old flood victim was one of about a dozen children displaced from their homes in west Augusta's Commonwealth subdivision after flash floods June 20. Their parents lost carpeting, appliances and furniture, but the children lost toys, clothing and the peace of mind that comes from believing they had somewhere safe to live.

This week, a group of local quilters presented 12 children living on Dominion Court and Dominion Way with handmade blankets in hopes it would ease the pain of being displaced from their homes.

"It was an unbelievable surprise," said Troy Dowds, Katrina's father. "We weren't expecting this at all. She loves blankets."

Quilts and crocheted throws were given to the children Monday afternoon by the founders of the Augusta chapter of Project Linus, a not-for-profit group that makes security blankets for traumatized children. The national organization has delivered more than 200,000 blankets to children throughout the world and has 350 chapters throughout the country.

The Augusta chapter was founded in April by two local women and has grown to more than 100 members.

"These kids were turned upside down in their homes," said Ginger Claxton Davis, one of the founding members of Project Linus Augusta. "We thought it was important to let the kids know there were people who cared about them."

The group regularly donates to the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center cancer unit and gives to Child Enrichment, the shelter for abused children.

Each blanket is unique and can take several days to a week to make. Volunteers also make quilts and throws for fire victims.

"It's a really nice personal experience," Ms. Davis said. "It's so wonderful to see a child light up when they get to pick their own special blanket."

Once a month, members of the local chapter meet at Branum's Sewing & Vacuum on Washington Road to sew, trade patterns and share their work.

Five-year-old Hunter Thompson has slept with his Project Linus cowboy quilt every day this week. And his 9-month-old brother, Parker, has a tiny new crocheted blanket just his size.

"They tailored them to the kids' ages, and they're really nice," said the boys' mother, Dominion Way resident Heather Thompson. "I still have my baby blanket, and here I've had two kids - it's the kid in me. Hunter thinks, `Now, I have my own blanket.' "

Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.

Project facts

What: Project Linus

Founders: Ginger Claxton Davis and Carol Armstrong

To volunteer or donate materials: Call 868-7100 or e-mail projectlinus@home.com.

Web site: www.projectlinus.org