Janet Geissler has a warm place in her heart for sick kids. Key in on the words, “warm” and “heart.” For the last decade, the Burholme resident and an army of volunteers have been making soft, warm blankets to be distributed to ill children in and around Philadelphia by Project Linus. Kids in hospitals like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children are the recipients.
Geissler is a chapter coordinator for the nonprofit Project Linus. She and the other volunteers have made thousands of blankets. Plenty of cutting, crocheting, knitting, sewing, time and love go into their work. They keep none of the blankets for themselves no matter how much they like them; they’re all for the kids.
“It’s a piece of your heart you’re giving away,” Geissler said during a mid-October interview at the Deer Meadows retirement community, where she and volunteers like resident Doris Waddell make a lot of blankets.
Geissler said she hears from many people who are grateful for the work Project Linus does. “They can’t believe people would take time to make something for a child they will never meet.”
Geissler works in records management for Prudential in Dresher, Pa., and gets a lot of support — and time — from her employer for her volunteer work.
The famous insurance company encourages its workers to get involved in their communities across the country and the world, and Geissler is one of the best, said Harold Banks, communications project manager for Prudential.
“She is one of our model volunteers,” he said last month.
That was especially true on Oct. 15, a day the company’s employees dedicated to volunteerism. Twenty-three thousand Prudential employees were involved in projects all over the world on that day, Banks said. However, he said, “We have many employees who volunteer all year long.” Geissler is one of them.
It’s just that Oct. 15 was a big effort. Geissler said she rounded up 93 blankets that day.
Sitting in a Deer Meadows room stuffed with material, Waddell said she and a handful of other residents finish 300 to 350 blankets per year.
All the blankets are made from donated materials, Geissler said, and the emphasis is on cheering colors.
“We try to keep it bright and happy,” she said. “Dead mouse brown is what I don’t want.”
Throughout Greater Philadelphia, Geissler said, she has organized hundreds of volunteers who work on their own.
“I have three other retirement groups, and a bunch of individuals,” Geissler said.
At Deer Meadows, however, it’s a group endeavor. The ladies who make blankets at the Roosevelt Boulevard facility meet at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Waddell said.
Anyone can help out, Waddell said. Right now, “All my ladies crochet,” she said.
She said she pitches joining up to any of Deer Meadows’ “newbies,” hoping they’ll join up and help.
But anyone is welcome to volunteer, Geissler said, and nobody has to join any groups or do any traveling.
“People can do this in their homes,” she said, stressing that there are many people who would like to volunteer in their communities, but aren’t sure how.
This is one way, she said. Anyone interested may call Geissler at 267-735-9695 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org ••