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Duluth group donates handmade blankets for kids dealing with trauma

In about a year, the Duluth-Superior chapter of Project Linus has donated over 150 blankets to children in crisis.

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Duluth Police Officer Mike Jambor accepts 50 handmade blankets from Project Linus chapter president Debbie Sauer at the Duluth Transportation Center on Monday morning, April 26, 2021. Project Linus is a national nonprofit that creates blankets for children experiencing trauma. The recently created Northland chapter gave the blankets to the Duluth Police Department so that officers can give them to children in need. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
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Children interacting with the Duluth Police Department after a traumatic event will have a little more comfort in their lives, thanks to a donation of 50 blankets from a local organization.

Project Linus is a nationwide nonprofit that provides new handmade blankets to children experiencing trauma.

"That could be from a stay in the hospital, ongoing medical treatments, disasters like fire or weather or in this case, a child dealing with some kind of trauma," chapter coordinator Debbie Sauer said.

It's the first donation that the department has received. Officer Mike Jambor said he was impressed by the variety of blankets created by volunteers.

"We're so grateful for the donation and for the volunteers who took the time to make these blankets," Jambor said. "It's a good opportunity for us to build better relationships with the children we serve and give them a little bit of comfort while they're dealing with situations that are chaotic enough for adults, let alone children."

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Sauer started the local chapter last year when she was looking for an avenue for her quilting.

"I needed a bigger outlet of people to give them to," Sauer said. "You can only give so many quilts to your family members, after all."

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Duluth Police Officer Mike Jambor helps move 50 blankets donated by Project Linus for children suffering trauma from chapter president Debbie Sauer’s vehicle Monday morning, April 26, 2021. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

She'd heard of Project Linus from fellow quilters, but noticed that there wasn't a local chapter to join. Sauer put in an application to create one for northern Minnesota and Superior. She received the approval just as everything was locking down last March.

"So I couldn't start distributing right away as no one was taking anything, but people could make blankets at home and give them to me," Sauer said. "And that's exactly what they did."

In the past year, Sauer has donated just over 150 blankets to various organizations. The blankets range in material and design from hand tied fleece to knit and crocheted yarn ones to intricate quilts. The people who make the blankets also vary greatly, from passionate individuals to community-minded groups.

"The National Honor Society at Hinckley-Finlayson High School has donated a lot of the fleece blankets," Sauer said. "But I've also had people like a woman from Superior who taught herself how to crochet during the pandemic and donated a bunch of baby blankets. And there's this group out of a Lutheran Church in Esko who make beautiful quilts. It just depends."

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Due to the pandemic, Sauer hasn't been able to hold any in-person blanket making events, but hopes to organize some in the future.

"That would be so much fun, to have all these people of different ages and abilities working together on a common cause," Sauer said. "Even now, just coordinating these donations is something I feel very fortunate to be able to do."

To donate, visit projectlinus.org to find information on local chapters or visit Project Linus Duluth-Superior Area on Facebook and contact Sauer. Blankets can also be dropped off at Hannah Johnson Fabrics, 4511 E. Superior St., Duluth.

Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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