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Kay Oakland, an organizer with Project Linus.

Blankets for kids at a critical time -- Kids at Ogema elementary help with 'Project Linus'

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When Carla Otten asked her students at Waubun-Ogema-White Earth Elementary School if any of them wanted to help carry blankets from the classroom to Kay Oakland's car, every single one of them excitedly raised a hand.

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That's just one example of this group of fourth-graders' willingness to help others.

They also made the fleece tie-blankets as part of Project Linus, a nonprofit for which Oakland is the Norman and Mahnomen counties' chapter coordinator.

Project Linus is a national organization that accepts handmade blankets from volunteers and donates them to children who are traumatized or severely ill.

Oakland cited hospitals and children who've lost their homes in house fires as two examples of where the blankets go.

"It's important that when children aren't feeling well or are hurt that they have something to cuddle with and to comfort them," Oakland told Otten's class when she visited them Wednesday to accept the blankets they made.

The students were happy to help the cause.

"I felt happy and joyful that someone would feel better after being traumatized and sick," fourth-grader Sydney Bly said.

Her classmate Sasha Barrett agreed.

"It was really helpful," Barrett said, "and I'd like to do it again someday."

The children weren't only learning and helping others with the project - they also enjoyed the experience.

"It was fun," Levi Martens said. "It's kind of fun to do for people who need it."

Otten heard about Project Linus from another Ogema teacher. She had her students participate as part of a service learning unit. This was Otten's first year having students work with Project Linus, but she hopes to repeat the project next year.

The children made the blankets with partners or in small groups. Each group presented their blanket to Oakland.

In addition to making the blankets, Otten had each of the students bring two dollars to contribute to the cost of materials. The class also received a donation from the Shooting Star Casino for the project.

Otten is proud of her students' work, and feels that they really grasped the ideas of service learning and helping others.

Oakland also felt that the fourth-graders grasped the mission of Project Linus.

"It's just great to see children serving children," she said.

The Norman and Mahnomen chapter of Project Linus has existed for three and a half years, donating a total of about 970 blankets.

In addition to donating to places in Norman and Mahnomen counties, Oakland said they've donated to Detroit Lakes and Crookston.

For more information on Project Linus, visit

projectlinus.org, and to get involved with the Norman and Mahnomen chapter, contact Oakland at 218-356-8718 or genekayo@tvut.com.

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