Story by Debbi Casini Klein and Reid Carter | Video and photo by Louis D’Aria
Barbara Sappie has been making blankets and coordinating volunteers with Project Linus, distributing thousands of blankets all over Western Pennsylvania. They call her The Blanket Lady, and she is responsible for bringing joy and comfort to traumatized children in hospitals and shelters.
Years ago, Barbara worked in a successful career as a real estate agent. Eventually, she began working with Project Linus, using her sewing skills to serve the organization that provides blankets for children in need.
“It’s very comforting to the children, like Linus, the Peanuts character,” Barbara said. “They hold them, it helps them to sleep … They get attached to these blankets and the just don’t want to let them go.”
Barbara works with and coordinates hundreds of volunteers, affectionately known as “blanketeers.” Lois Misko, a volunteer with the project, sings the Blanket Lady’s praises.
“I don’t think anybody really knows how much time she has put into this,” Lois said. “She’s a perfectionist so she oversees almost every step of the way of the collecting, the evaluating, the bagging, the distributions. It is a full time commitment.”
Project Linus saw more than 9,000 blankets distributed to over 45 facilities last year, leaving Barbara with a heavy workload. Still, Barbara says it’s worth the effort.
“The purpose of the Project Linus blanket is it’s a hug when you need it the most,” she said. “… I love what I do. It’s such a great organization, and the results of what we do is very rewarding.”