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Lynne Heller, left, of the 1111 Project at Fallston United Methodist Church, attaches a card to a blanket made by volunteers for a veteran at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. She is with Mariann Chatfield, a member of the project planning team.
Lynne Heller, left, of the 1111 Project at Fallston United Methodist Church, attaches a card to a blanket made by volunteers for a veteran at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. She is with Mariann Chatfield, a member of the project planning team. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

If you want to keep a Harford County veteran comfortable and warm, members of the 1111 Project will accept your help as they continue to make blankets destined for veterans being treated at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health hospitals.

Project leaders welcomed customers to take part in making the blankets — by tying multiple knots along the fringes of two pieces of fabric to bring them together and form a braided blanket — at the recent grand re-opening of the renovated Joann store in Bel Air’s Tollgate Marketplace.

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Representatives of 1111 Project, which is affiliated with Fallston United Methodist Church, set up in the Joann Creators’ Studio during the grand re-opening. Shoppers could drop by and help members tie knots and put the blankets together.

People from many organizations have volunteered with the 1111 Project since it was launched in March; supporters include Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Brownie troops, Cub Scout packs, church groups, school groups, community groups such as Rotary and Lions Clubs, veterans associations and others.

The group coordinates deliveries with Allen Siegel, director of spiritual care services for Upper Chesapeake Health.

“It’s really touched my heart,” said Lynne Heller, a church member who is part of the team that started the 1111 Project. “We have a really great group of people in Harford County contributing to this project.”

About 30 to 40 veterans a week are admitted to Upper Chesapeake hospitals — the main campus in Bel Air and Harford Memorial in Havre de Grace — and members wanted to “get involved and make a difference in the lives of our veterans,” said Heller, who is a spokesperson for the 1111 Project.

The project gets its name from the group’s initial goal to make 1,111 blankets by Veteran’s Day this year, which falls on Monday, Nov. 11.

The first Veteran’s Day — which was originally called Armistice Day — was observed a century ago on Nov. 11, 1919, the one-year anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the fighting in World War I. The armistice took effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, bringing the four-year conflict to a close.

Leaders of the 1111 Project have not yet met their goal of more than 1,100 blankets, however. Organizers have received 653 blankets as of Sunday, according to Heller.

“This has been an amazing community project for those who have sacrificed so much,” Heller said via text message Sunday. “[It] warms my heart.”

She had noted, while at Joann, that “the blankets are more than a number."

People can visit the website, https://www.fallstonumc.org/1111-project, to donate or find more information, including instructional videos on setting up materials and making blankets. Blanket-making kits can be purchased online via the project website or at Joann.

“Anybody who wants to make a blanket for veterans, we will help facilitate that process,” said Mariann Chatfield, a member of the project planning team.

Mariann Chatfield, a member of the 1111 Project at Fallston United Methodist Church, demonstrates how to tie a knot to put two pieces of fabric together to form a blanket destined for a veteran at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.
Mariann Chatfield, a member of the 1111 Project at Fallston United Methodist Church, demonstrates how to tie a knot to put two pieces of fabric together to form a blanket destined for a veteran at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. (David Anderson/The Aegis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Chatfield demonstrated how to tie two fringes together in a simple knot. The knots are tied while the top and bottom fabrics are held together with pins or a stitch of thread, which are removed once all knots are tied around the edges of the fabric.

“We just tie knots that keep the two pieces together so it can be washed, and it’s very warm,” Chatfield said.

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Finished blankets are folded, and cards are attached to them with ribbons. The card bears a message to the recipient, thanking the veteran for their service and indicating that the blanket should be considered “a sign of God’s loving, healing presence,” and that the veteran is “surrounded by the prayers of others.”

The blankets are delivered to the church, and a blessing is said over them. The blankets are presented to a veteran at the hospital by a chaplain in full-dress uniform, according to the Rev. Karin Walker, pastor of Fallston United Methodist Church.

Sue Hopkins, an Aberdeen resident and retired Harford County Public Schools faculty member, worked with two project members, tying knots on a blanket. Hopkins said the two women she worked with were “lovely” and “great ladies.”

Hopkins is the former band director for Aberdeen Middle School, and her students typically perform during the City of Aberdeen’s Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies.

“The [activities] for the veterans is pretty close to my heart,” she said.

Teri Leonard, coordinator of the Joann Creators’ Studio, also was touched by the blanket-making event. She noted it brought people from different parts of Harford County together to support veterans.

“It’s a wonderful thing that they’re doing for the veterans,” she said. “It’s our community coming together.”

Heller said she is not a veteran herself, but she has family members who are, plus her nephew is in the active-duty Army. She said “we’re all connected to a veteran somewhere.”

“We really have made a difference in the lives of those who have sacrificed more than you or I will ever know,” Heller said of the 1111 Project.

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