Video: Making a Difference with blankets

By Roger O’Neil Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/22/2007 11:52:03 AM ET 2007-01-22T16:52:03

Almost every child has had one — "a blankee," our first friend.

But Karen Loucks Rinedollar knows in the hands of a sick child, a blanket can work magic.

"You learn that it's not just all the medications that makes somebody better," Rinedollar says.

A hobby, and a picture of a little girl with cancer, was the start of Project Linus 11 years ago.

Like the lovable Peanuts character, Linus, Rinedollar wanted to help kids fight cancer with blankets.

"The kids are so fearful," she says. "They have no idea what to expect. This is something that's 100 percent pain-free. It's cuddly and warm and it's theirs."

As a 2-year-old, Allison Bolan battled leukemia with a blanket.

"She would take it with her to procedures and it was just something she could hold onto that she knew would always be there," Allison's mother, Louanne Bolan, says.

Rinedollar's simple idea of making a difference in the lives of a few children has now grown into a worldwide effort with almost 2 million blankets handed out. But it doesn't stop there.

Project Linus is also affecting the lives of tens of thousands of volunteers who make all those blankets.

"It feels nice to be doing something for somebody else," one volunteer says.

Rinedollar's project continues to grow, including the children of 9/11 and Katrina. Now, Linus blankets are going to the children of soldiers killed in Iraq. Nine-year-old Cameron has one.

"When I use my blanket, it makes me feel like my Dad's arms are wrapped around me," Cameron says.

The healing power of a blanket, made with love, given to children by one woman and a volunteer army.

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