PLC Old Girl Ruby Houston is making a difference as leader of Project Linus in Brisbane. A PLC graduate in 1948, when the school was still located in Brown Street, Ruby grew up near Dorrigo.
Ruby, like so many graduates of PLC Armidale, is enjoying her role of service well beyond her school years. Social Service is a key part of the curriculum at PLC Armidale. “We strive to provide opportunities for the girls to see beyond themselves and toward the wider community,” said Debra Kelliher, Head of School at PLC. “Many of our graduates continue giving back to the community throughout their life as a result of the love of service nurtured during the school years.” We caught up with Ruby to find out about her wonderful work.
What is a Linus Quilt?
A Linus Quilt is a quilt made by volunteers from new washable fabric and given anonymously as a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatised or otherwise in need of a hug.
The children keep the quilt and if they are re-admitted to hospital, they take their quilt with them. The quilts stay on the bed when treatment is required, so that no painful memories are associated with the quilt.
How did your group start making Linus Quilts?
In January 2000, a local patchwork shop owner Pam Deshon commenced Project Linus in Queensland for the making of quilts for children in the Oncology ward at the Children’s Hospital. Pam discovered Linus Quilts while on a visit to America, and immediately upon her return started the group. Sadly, later that same year, Pam passed away. Schoolhouse Quilters then continued making the quilts in Pam’s memory. There are many individuals and groups making quilts, and they send them to me for distribution.
The group meet monthly, and to date our group alone have distributed nearly 10,000 quilts to such places as Royal Children’s Hospital, Mater Children’s Hospital, Port Moresby Hospital and Charleville Hospital. Excess quilts are donated to many other organisations.
Tell us about how you raise funds, Ruby.
Late 2003 I started a local sewing / craft group called Sherwood Stitchers. Some members belong to Project Linus and come to our working days.
Sherwood Stitchers are very supportive of Project Linus and now hold a bi-annual quilt show and craft stall in the local church hall. The funds raised enable Project Linus to buy rolls of wadding to give to groups who make large numbers of quilts.
One group made 1,000 quilts over 5 years. We also purchase fabric to supplement the donated fabric we receive.
Where are your quilts distributed?
I contact the wards at the Royal Children’s Hospital and The Mater Children’s Hospital every couple of months and ‘top up’ their stock. They also contact me when they have particular needs. If we have extra stock, I choose a special school and supply a quilt for every child, along with a quilt for use as a prize for a fundraising raffle. Each year thereafter we provide quilts for the new students joining the school.
How many quilts have you donated?
In our first 18 months we donated 258 quilts. Our total now is 9,892 quilts since we started in 2000.
Tell us about your special quilts.
We make tactile quilts – ‘touchy feely’ and ‘fiddly’ quilts. These are much loved by the vision impaired and disabled children and adults suffering Dementia. Black and white quilts are made to stimulate the blind babies from 4 weeks of age.
If these babies do gain some sight, it will begin to develop from 4 months of age and they see bright red or bright yellow only, so quilts are also made in these colours.
We make weighted blankets for children with Autism, and they are distributed through Autism Queensland.
How can others become involved?
We are very keen to continue to expand Project Linus and supply more beautiful quilts to cheer up the children and their families.
There are groups across Australia and around the world. People can become involved in many different ways. Donating fabric, cash donations for us to purchase materials, form a group or sew a quilt. For readers who attend the ‘Craft Fair’, look out for the Project Linus corner, where we sew throughout the fair to demonstrate what we do.
Anyone interested in becoming involved can contact Jenny Robinson at PLC Armidale on
Thank you Ruby.