GREAT FALLS - Seventeen years ago, Gina Loss went through a difficult time in her life.
Upon reflection, she asked herself, “How do children get through difficult times like these?”
She then discovered Project Linus, a nationwide non-profit organization.
The organization is volunteer-based and makes homemade blankets for children up to 18 years old that are in crisis.
There are four chapters in Montana; Loss is the coordinator for the Helena and Great Falls area.
However, the chapter serves the majority of the central Montana region, reaching children in places including Havre and Shelby.
Since the chapter's opening, Loss and her volunteers have provided blankets to many Montana children.
"All these blankets are gifts to the children. We have gifted over 22,000 blankets and virtually all of those have stayed in Montana,” Loss explained.
However, not just any blanket can be a Project Linus blanket.
Loss highlighted the detailed quality-control inspection each blanket receives, including being looked over by a metal detector to prevent a child from receiving a blanket with pins.
"Once we're sure the blanket is well-made and ready to go out, we put our Project Linus label on it. That's what makes it a Project Linus blanket. It's a little satin label we put in the top corner of every blanket. We also add a tag that has a sweet poem and the maker's first name on the back to give a little personal touch,” she explained.
Loss has volunteers from all over the state of Montana. One in particular, Marla Dykstra, drives over four hours from Plains, Montana, to donate her handmade blankets.
"I just really like the idea of giving blankets to kids that were having a hard time,” Dykstra said.
If you are interested in making blankets, volunteering, or donating money/materials you can call Loss at 406-495-0911, or click here to visit the Project Linus website.