From left Sue Turner, Barbara Smith and Carol Dye Irwin at Christine Newby's tea party fundraiser for Project Linus. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
From left Sue Turner, Barbara Smith and Carol Dye Irwin at Christine Newby's tea party fundraiser for Project Linus. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Column: Tea party for blankets

(Disclaimer: Columns may contain opinion)

Treats at the Project Linus Tea Party fundraiser. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

 Christine Newby had only 20 spots for her May 7 fundraiser, and they filled quickly.

The coordinator of the local chapter of Project Linus opened her Evans’ home for a tea party.

Guests wore their best hats and were treated to a delicious menu with items such as scones (which seemed to be the favorite at my table), handmade chocolates and raspberry bars.

Those were the desserts.

The rest of the menu, which included a mixed green salad, fruit salad and finger sandwiches, was just as lovely and was prepared by Newby and her team of volunteers.

I sat with Carol Dye Irwin, Barbara Smith and Sue Turner in a room that could only be described as a tearoom.  A collection of China teacups and saucers adorns the lavender-hued walls.

The cozy spot was perfect for the conversation which was interspersed with talk of world travel as well as memories of our creative grandmothers and mothers.

Christine Newby’s tea-themed front room. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

I think all four of us descended from women who could sew, crochet, knit or quilt, which is fitting because Project Linus’s mission is to create blankets for children who are seriously ill or in a crisis situation and could benefit from a comfort blanket.

Both Sue and Barbara are Project Linus volunteers. Carol said she can’t sew or crochet, but that doesn’t matter, both Barbara and Sue told her. There are lots of things that people can do without stitching a stitch,

They can cut fabric, match fabric or roll yarn into balls to go with blanket kits. Christine is good at finding things for volunteers to do, Barbara said, and then she shared the story of a volunteer session that had several smaller children involved.

They were too young to use the scissors or do some of the other tasks so Christine asked them to take the fabric around the room to make sure it got a lot of hugs and love that could be given to another child.

As if on cue, Christine walked into the room with the blueberry lavender ice cubes that went into the tea and told us that she was going to cry because that’s her favorite story.

After the tea, guests could tour Christine’s home including the bedroom and bathroom that is designated for Project Linus. The bedroom has a large craft table and a sewing machine, and the attic/closet space is floor to ceiling with fabric. And a little secret – there are blanket supplies in the bathtub, hidden behind the shower curtain.

Fabric for quilts. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Christine took over Project Linus in 2019 and has spearheaded its exponential growth.

In 2018, volunteers made 400 blankets. In 2020, volunteers delivered 3,156 blankets; and in 2022, volunteers delivered 7,192 blankets.

There are a couple of volunteer blanket making days a month – one is designated for quilters. This month’s quilting event was held May 8. The blanket-making day is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the third Saturday of the month at Platt’s Funeral Home’s community room.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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