Project Linus National Headquarters is located in Belton, Missouri. National President Patty Gregory and Vice President Mary Balagna direct and orchestrate the activities of Project Linus chapters located across the United States. Patty has been involved with the organization in the Kansas City area since April 2000 and Mary in Central Illinois since late 1998, as chapter coordinators and now as directors and officers. Mary also maintains a very busy chapter, donating an average of 350 blankets every month to local children. With chapters in all 50 states, Project Linus continues to grow. Blankets are collected locally and distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, or anywhere that a child might be in need of a big hug.
Rarely a month goes by that Project Linus is not featured in a national magazine or program. Parade, People, Readers Digest, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, Quiltmaker, Quilters Newsletter, Guidepost, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, Womans Day and many others have helped to spur interest. You may have seen or heard segments about Project Linus on the NBC Nightly News, Today Show, or even your local newscasts..
On Christmas Eve, 1995, an article titled “Joy to the World” appeared in Parade Magazine
. It was written by Pulitzer Prize winning photo-journalist, Eddie Adams. Part of the article featured a petite, downy haired child named Laura:
“Laura has unusual compassion for others,” Charlotte Barry-Williams of Oceanside, California, says of her daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1993. “I guess part of the reason is that she has experienced so much pain herself.”
A special “blankie” has helped Laura, 3, get through more than two years of intensive chemotherapy. She takes it to the hospital with her when she goes for treatment. When she was first diagnosed, 97 percent of her bone marrow contained cancerous cells. Although chemotherapy has helped eradicate the cancer, she has had to endure nausea, high fevers and the loss of her hair. An allergic reaction at one point caused her to lose vital signs.
“She doesnt understand what cancer means,” her mother says. “Shes a very joyous and happy person, very curious.” Her mother hopes Laura can start preschool next spring.
After reading the article, Karen Loucks decided to provide homemade security blankets to Denver's Rocky Mountain Children's Cancer Center, and Project Linus was born.