Warm hearts, warm blankets: Hanscom Girl Scouts sew for hospitalized children, earn Bronze Awards

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Lisa Spilinek
  • 66th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Six Hanscom Junior Girl Scouts recently finished sewing 11 blankets to donate to the Project Linus charity, which provides hospitalized children with blankets for comfort and security. The girls, ages 11 to 13, began constructing the nine fleece blankets and two quilts for the charity's Greater Boston Chapter in February and celebrated their accomplishments with a pizza party at Hanscom Lanes on June 6. 

"The blankets took a long time to complete, but they were fun to make," said Alexis Roth, a member of Troop 1607. 

Constructing the blankets was the final hurdle for the girls to receive their Bronze Awards, the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can earn, said Maureen DeLuise, the troop's leader. Most of the sewing took place in the Hanscom Middle School Home Economics classroom, which has since been remodeled into a computer laboratory. For some, the project was their first exposure to sewing, Ms. DeLuise said. 

Samantha Carbon, who worked on a baby quilt, said she found the precise measuring to be challenging, but fun. "It was a great project." 

Ytrenda Gulley, who had previous sewing experience, worked with Samantha on the baby quilt as well as on a number of fleece blankets. While making the blankets, Ytrenda taped each inch-by-inch and later painstakingly removed each piece of tape when the cutting was complete. 

"It took team work and patience," Ytrenda said. 

Judi Parker, the troop's assistant leader, said the girls put a lot of thought into who they were sewing the blankets for, which included selecting fabric motifs that would appeal to both genders. Jordan Parker and Jessica Phillips worked on a quilt sized for a teenager as well as two sports-themed fleece blankets. 

Jordan explained that Project Linus accepts appropriately sized blankets for babies, children and teens. She and Jessica said they wanted to make a teen quilt because they felt this group might not receive as many blankets as children in younger age categories. 

In selecting fabric for the teen quilt, Jordan and Jessica said they tried to ask themselves what fellow troop member, Alexis, 13, would like best, since Alexis is the oldest member of the troop. 

Jessica said that though she was nervous about the project at first, the outcome exceeded their expectations. "We liked [the "teenage" quilt] so much, we wanted to keep it," Jessica said. 

Jacquelyn DeLuise, who worked on several of the blankets, said the project was one of the most exciting the group had undertaken. "It was a good challenge and put our sewing skills to the test," she said. 

The blankets were presented to Project Linus sponsors Sunday during a Girl Scout Bridging Ceremony, honoring the passage of one of the girls becoming a Cadet Girl Scout. Three of the girls will return to the Junior troop next year. 

Because the children who receive the blankets are ill, the girls could not present the blankets directly to them. Yet, the girls all said they hoped the children would be pleased. "We wish we could see the looks on their faces when they receive the blankets," Ytrenda said. 

To earn their Bronze Awards, the girls logged at least 15 service hours each by working on the blankets and participated in leadership and learning activities. These activities included organizing and also donating Girl Scout cookies to base Troop Care Package drives, as well as lending help to the Base Chapel by creating and filling paper mache pumpkins for a deployed spouses' dinner. 

Prior to beginning the project, the girls earned required badges pertaining to embroidery, weaving and textile processes by visiting the American Textile Museum in Lowell, Mass., Ms. DeLuise said. 

To learn more about Project Linus, visit www.bostonprojectli nus.com and www.projectlinus.org.