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Ann Arbor Miller, Published January 12 2009

In View: Sewing and Socializing

Sewing and socializing appear to go hand-in-hand, especially when the “blanketeers” get together.

It’s a recent Monday afternoon in the Hobby Center on the third floor of One Oak Place in Fargo.

Six ladies are occupied with various stages of blanket making: ironing, measuring, pinning, cutting, tying and sewing. The volunteer group gathers weekly for “Sewing Day” to craft blankets for the local chapter of Project Linus.

The level of laughter and chatter in the room rises steadily by the hour.

“We have a good time, and it’s so rewarding,” said Marilyn Hensch of Fargo, who is pictured above, right, with Dorothy Holter of West Fargo, center, and MaryAnn Blazek of West Fargo.

Since its creation three years ago, the Eastern North Dakota Chapter of Project Linus has distributed more than 6,000 blankets to kids who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through 50-some agencies and organizations.

The chapter, which is one of three in North Dakota, owes its existence to Lynne Olien. The West Fargo woman founded it to honor her son Nathan, who died at the age of 5 in 2002.

Olien serves as chapter coordinator and received a “blanket hug” of her own in 2007 when weatherman Al Roker aired segments of NBC’s “Today” show from her front yard. Roker presented Olien with several sewing machines, an abundance of material and other supplies.

Several months ago, those sewing machines and other supplies found a permanent home at One Oak Place where area blanket-makers have a storage closet and access to the workroom.

Project Linus volunteers say they are motivated by a desire to combine a love of sewing with an interest in giving back.

The friendships that have formed along the way are simply an added bonus.


How to get involved: The Eastern North Dakota Chapter of Project Linus is looking for volunteers and donations to support blanket-making efforts. For more information, contact Lynne Olien at (701) 277-5790 or lynne-pl@hotmail.com. Information is also available online at www.orgsites.com/nd/projectlinusfargo.