By Jeanne Sager
NEVERSINK December 3, 2002 Everybody knows the story of Linus and his blanket.
The loveable Peanuts character carried his blue blankey everywhere, and if it were in the wash or lost, Linus acted as though it was the end of the world.
As far as Ann Bivins is concerned, theres a little bit of Linus in every kid.
Whether they call it their binky, their blankey or some other pet name, most young children have a blanket that gives them comfort when theyre sick or scared.
Its a familiar object in an unfamiliar place, the Neversink resident explained. Its a soft, squishy hug when they have nothing else.
But some kids dont have their trusty blanket at their sides at all times. Some children are in hospital beds alone, struggling against a phantom disease with only nurses and doctors as company.
Some children are the victims of abuse or involved in accidents that leave them scared and alone.
Thats where Bivins comes in. She just got her charter from Project Linus, a national program which puts handmade quilts and security blankets in the arms of the children who need them.
The non-profit group has chapters across the country, and as of last month, theres even one in Sullivan County.
Bivins began work with Project Linus in Orange County last year. A former 4-H leader, Bivins was beginning to feel out of touch with community projects since her children and the kids she watched grow up in the program had moved away, married, and had children of their own.
I missed the involvement, she explained. As your life changes, your way of giving back changes.
With my own children, I remember if they were sick or scared, there was always one thing I could give them that would make them feel better their blanket.
And everybody knows about Linus and his security blanket and how he carried it everywhere.
After talking with Julia Sullivan, head of Project Linus in Orange County, Bivins learned she could start her own project at home, pulling volunteers from the Sullivan County community to help make blankets.
Shes already gotten donations of yarn and some offers to join the project, but Bivins is still looking for a place to hold regular meetings somewhere centrally located so folks from across the county can attend.
And shes working with different area agencies to find ways to hand out the blankets. Bivins hopes the NYS Police and the Sullivan County Sheriffs Department can put a few blankets in their trunks to offer to children at accident scenes.
And as the wife of a volunteer firefighter (her husband Ken is a member of the Grahamsville department), Bivins hopes to set up a working relationship with local departments to offer blankets to children who are fire victims.
Bivins is also looking for other interested agencies to take blankets for distribution, including the local hospitals and the Red Cross.
Theres just a million places for these blankets to go, she noted.
Her first memory of working with Project Linus in Orange County was a visit to the pediatric ward at Horton Memorial Hospital.
When they stepped out of the elevators, arms full of quilts, the nurses all gathered around to see what the blanket ladies had to offer. The staff quickly grabbed the best of the lot to give to their special children, and Bivins snuck off to take a peek in the patients rooms.
The kids were so excited, she recalled. The kids who had no visitors or no stuffed animal had something of their own.
Theres no price on that, Bivins added. Theres a lot of really worthy causes, but this is different.
It has a more personal touch.
The children are each told that this new blanket is theirs to keep Project Linus does not recall any of their quilts.
To get involved in the project, call Ann Bivins at 985-7972. Currently Project Linus of Sullivan County is seeking a meeting place and any donations that people can muster up. Volunteers are welcome.