– Aspen Daily News 4/17/97


It all started with the Oprah Winfrey Show last June.

Local Linda Sandels watched an episode on the Binky Patrol, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the comforting touch of hand-made blankets to sick and abused children.

Sandels, with her strong sewing background, decided to get involved in the project.

Since then, she has donated 163 quilts to various organizations.

“I have known several people who have died from AIDS,” the self-taught quilter said.  “I originally started making quilts because the majority of them were donated to infants born HIV-positive.”

The quilter has also donated blankets to several local organizations that cater to seriously ill children and families in need.

The national group, Project Linus, (Binky Patrol’s sister organization) also has received blankets made by Sandels.

Project Linus distributes blankets and quilts to critically ill children in hospitals and other institutions (like Binky Patrol).  As part of the project, she is making quilts to be given to guests at Andrea Jaeger’s Tennis Camp for critically ill children….

“I think it would be fun for children to make quilts for other children,” Sandels said.  “It would also be very special for a child to receive a quilt made by another child.”

The first-grade students and parents at Aspen Country Day School recently participated in a quilting session with Sandels to become the first children involved in the project (in Colorado).

The children drew on quilt squares and then painted them.  Sandels will sew the squares together.  The quilts depict the all-school theme of mountains.

The ninth-grade class at Aspen Country Day School also will become involved in the project in the near future.

Sandels hopes to get other schools and classes involved in quilt making, sewing and donating.

“Even if every kid in the valley made a quilt, there would still be a need for more,” Sandels said.

Sandels uses all recycled linens, sheets, blankets, large towels and bedspreads in her quilts.

“All I want to do is bring a little happiness and joy into a child’s life,” she said.  “As long as it’s fun, I’ll keep doing it.”



Published: Sunday, January 25, 1998
Page: B1

By Sharon Stewart
Staff writer

About six months ago, Lorraine Spencer of Los Alamitos was feeling pretty sorry for herself.

“All of a sudden I couldn’t run around, I wasn’t active anymore,’ says the ex-schoolteacher who was recently became dependent on using a wheelchair. “I felt really sorry for me for about one day, and then I decided I better do something about it.’

An article in a newspaper soliciting volunteers to make quilts and blankets for sick and homeless children gave Spencer, 79, an idea.

“I decided that’s for me,’ the diminutive, soft-spoken mother of three says. “I had made car covers, piano covers and underwear, but I had never made a quilt before. I dug around in my back room and found some (fabric) and made a quilt.’

Spencer is now a full-fledged member of the Binky Patrol, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Aliso Viejo. In fact, she’s volunteered to coordinate the effort to recruit and train additional volunteers to sew, knit or crochet and distribute the colorful quilts to hospitals and homeless shelters in Los Alamitos and the greater Long Beach area.

Spencer, who taught home economics and math to middle school youngsters for 25 years, says experience in quilt-making isn’t a requirement. “Most people think `quilt,’ and they immediately think of these great big doublebed-sized quilts,’ Spencer says, “but most of the ones we do are small and child-sized.’

There are other jobs for volunteers who are reluctant to immediately try their hand at sewing, knitting or crocheting. Volunteers can deliver the completed binkies to hospitals and shelters, as well as scavenge for fabric, thread and other materials from clothes manufacturers, their neighbors or their own closets.

“People who buy a chunk of material, but don’t use it can send it over to me,’ she says. “Sheets that have a big rip in them can be cut up for pieces. One lady brought me a dress that she hated. We cut it up and it made the prettiest quilt.’

BP, as members call the Binky Patrol, has given away approximately 6,500 quilts and blankets since its inception in May 1996, brightening the lives of thousands of children in 25 states and Canada, says the organization’s vice president, Lisa Haefner.

President and founder of the organization, Susan Finch of Mission Viejo, started the Binky Patrol as a way to divert her thoughts from her recession-hit art gallery. But it was a mention of the group’s purpose on the Oprah Winfrey show in June of 1996 that assured its success.

“We got 700 phone calls that first weekend,’ Haefner, 34, says. “We now have approximately 30 chapters and about 2,500 volunteers.’ She says about 20 percent of the volunteers are school-age children. Some volunteers have made the Binky Patrol a family project, Haefner says. “It’s giving kids a chance to work with their moms and dads…,’ she says. “It’s a way that they can create together, and it’s bringing back the family unit.’

The simple act of giving free blankets to sick children has personal meaning for Haefner.

“I was sick for 10 years with a chronic autoimmune disease, and I was in and out of the hospital constantly,’ she says. “I know what it’s like to be sick. When I had my own pillow and blanket at the hospital, I felt better because they were mine.’

Haefner, cured when her colon was removed, says seeing the faces of the children and parents receiving the blankets is fulfilling. She recently visited Miller Children’s Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, delivering 33 of the handcrafted quilts to children and their parents.

“I want (the children) to feel loved,’ Haefner says. “I want them to snuggle with it and feel comfortable and secure.’

The parents “were so appreciative that people would spend so much time making those quilts,’ said Miller’s Family-Centered Care coordinator Linda Williams. “It was just a wonderful, warm gesture.’

You can help

If you are interested in joining the Binky Patrol, call (949) 499-BINK.



It’s a stitch in time…

Fullerton News Tribune – March 12, 1998

by Barbara Giasone

Talk about a full plate!  Jerry Duffner barely has room for another morsel on this daily menu.

Duffner is a full-time marketing major at Cal State Fullerton, a full-time manager for Target stores food court in Anaheim Hills, a bridegroom-to-be planning his August 8 wedding and a part time “seamster.”

That’s not just any seamstering, mind you.  Duffner makes blankets for children in need, primarily infants born HIV-positive, drug-addicted and the chronically ill.

He got involved through his finacee, Pattye Byrd, who neads the North Orange County Chapter of the Binky Patrol.  In 1996 Byrd learned of South Laguna Beach resident Susan Finch who shared her project on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

At the time, Byrd, a student at the Interior Design Institute figured her sewing acumen and volunteer mindset could put her in a position to help.  A year later, Byrd started her own Binky chapter.

Duffner, who learned to sew from his mother and in home economics classes in junior high school, completed two blankets the first year the binky group met.

“We’d like to see more menb join our group,” said Byrd, who helps coordinate the monthly meetins at the Orange home of Merrilee Green.  (Call 633-1927 for information.)

Last month, the group donated 50 blankets to area hosptials, including Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph, Western Medical Center and Martin Luther.

What’s the reward?

“When you give something to the young hospital patients, you see parents in tears and know they will remember their children were able to have something of their own when they recover,” Duffner said.


For More Information Contact:

Binky Patrol Comforting Covers for Kids
PO Box 652, Beaverton, OR 97075-652
Tel: 949-499-BINK