When Sister Josie Harrison of Chorley Stake attended a presentation by Project Linus to her ward Relief Society back in 2005, she had little idea of where it would lead.
Fourteen years on and she has just completed her 1000th blanket. Touched by Project Linus’ work to provide blankets for sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers, she was taken back to when she first learnt the joy of giving from the efforts of her Father, who crafted wooden toys in his garden shed to give to children dealing with the trauma of the Second World War.
When Josie began nursing, she continued this tradition, recalling her Father’s advice to “try to do something to make somebody smile”. Although she doubted that she had the skills needed to produce the beautiful patchwork blankets displayed at the 2005 meeting, she knew that she could do something.
“I knew the comfort that a soft blanket could bring to a child, so with nothing to lose I asked Project Linus if they would accept a simpler blanket, of cotton facing and fleece backing. They requested a sample, gave the go-ahead, and I was off,” said Josie.
Health limitations in the intervening years have led to her simplifying her blankets. When she could no longer embroider the fleece backing, she left it plain. When she could no longer lift the sewing machine or sew a straight line, she took to hand sewing. When her eyesight diminished temporarily after a stroke, she remembered many years earlier how she taught a blind woman to knit. Not certain how to approach the task she simply closed her own eyes and practised until she could do it. This long-forgotten skill meant she was able to knit tiny hats for premature babies until she was able to begin the blankets again.
She said, “These blankets have done more for me than for those who received them. They bring joy before they’re even begun, with my family searching out beautiful fabrics and bringing them home to me, sometimes all the way from Switzerland. I have come to understand the inspired counsel to simplify. Nowadays I simply ‘sit and serve’ and feel blessed that there is still a way that I can minister and be involved.”