By Halimah Kargbo
Hammond’s Project Linus chapter is a club dedicated to not only community service, but also to building friendships and camaraderie. Meetings, which occur over Google Meet every Tuesday at 3 pm, are a safe and comfortable space for Hammond students to come and engage in various discussions or activities.
“People don’t really understand that we don’t want to just be the club that can get you some quick service hours,” senior Feben Abiy says. “We essentially want to be a place for students to just vent and be creative; sometimes we watch shows/movies, give each other advice, or just encourage people to come and socialize.”
Feben is the president of Project Linus this year and shares insights into how the club has had to change due to the new virtual environment.
“Before the pandemic, we would gather around a table and Ms. McQueen, our sponsor, would put out a bunch of really delicious snacks for us,” she says. “In that format, I formed so many friendships and received a lot of advice from upperclassmen. This year, Ms. McQueen and I had to totally revamp while also trying to keep things as close to how they used to be. The club isn’t really meant to be virtual so it took a long time to figure out how to build things from the ground up.”
This same atmosphere has been hard to hold onto now that the meetings are online— at times it is hard to feel the same connection that they once had. But, many of the members have persevered and are navigating the new environment well.
As the year has stretched on, there has seemed to be a lack of momentum when it comes to the turn-outs of their meetings. There are a couple of club members that attend meetings pretty consistently, but the number is small (usually four or five). At one of their more recent meetings, they had a quite large attendance.
“We have had some unexpected meetings where a bunch of people came, like at one of our last meetings which had 17 people!” Feben adds.
But, few people attended again and their numbers dwindled the following week. To try and combat this problem, they have been making more efforts to get the word out. Senior Rosemary Tuffour was appointed as their Social-Media Coordinator and sends out virtual announcements about meetings. The club has also created an Instagram dedicated to keeping students updated about meetings and any club news. In addition to this, the club has reached out to other community service-related clubs to see if they could garner any more interest. Due to their increase in efforts, 50+ people have signed their interest form.
As well as being a social club, Project Linus members create blankets and send them to the Project Linus organization. Members that are creating them for the first time are encouraged to attend meetings, just to be sure that the blankets are very high in quality and up to the organization’s standard. Several blankets have already been submitted and donated this year.
“Many of our members are experienced in making the no-sew blankets so they are just at home creating; they don’t really come to meetings because they don’t need the direction,” Feben remarks. “We just like to stress that we want more people coming to our meetings.”
Each blanket can be worth up to six service hours if the student buys their own materials and four hours if Project Linus provides them with the materials. The opportunity is convenient for those who are either in need of service hours or are just looking for ways to volunteer their time.
“It seems like people are really moved by the service hours that we offer. Anytime a friend tells me that they need hours, I always mention Project Linus,” Feben says.
If there is one thing that Hammond’s Project Linus wants students to know about their club, it would be the true impact that they are able to bring to the community.
“We are constantly getting thank-you notes from animal shelters and hospitals, and even sometimes from the children themselves thanking us for the blankets. I mean I can just imagine the smiles on the children’s faces and the appreciation the parents must feel when receiving a Project Linus blanket,” Feben adds.
To them, it’s the small impact that they are able to make in another person’s life that matters. They hope that the simple blankets they make will reach someone while they are in a time of struggle and bring them peace.