OGDEN -- IRS employees have been busy doing more than your taxes this year: They're giving abused, neglected and terminally ill children a hug.
Approximately 90 employees have spent hours making quilts and afghans for Project Linus, a nonprofit national organization aimed at giving children a blanket that will provide a "hug" and some comfort at such a difficult time in their life.
"I had five miscarriages and after my fourth miscarriage I started learning how to crochet around the edges of blankets," said IRS tax examiner Dawnette McKell. "It was therapy for me. To me, a blanket is like a hug and these kids need a hug. They need a blanket."
Jean Nebeker, coordinator for the Northern Utah Project Linus chapter, said she is thrilled to receive the blankets.
"There is such a huge need in our community. We have so many abandoned and abused and ill children," she said. "Just one blanket can bring warmth and comfort and a hug to a child."
Nebeker said the blankets go to children in hospitals, shelters and children staying at the YCC, Christmas Box House and the American Red Cross of Northern Utah among others. She has even given a blanket to children of fallen soldiers.
When the blankets are complete, Nebeker inspects them, ties a ribbon around them, adds a poem and makes the delivery.
"These ladies are providing such a wonderful service to our children. They have just been delightful. What a difference they are making in our community," she said.
KayJean Ortiz-Davis, is a department manager in the adjustments branch. She said the idea came about after an accounts management commissioner at the IRS asked his employees to get involved in a service project. Ortiz-Davis and her employees went to a website to look for ideas and found Project Linus.
"After reading about it, we just got so excited," she said. "We set a goal to make 100 blankets and as of this morning we are up to 153, so we have far surpassed our goal."
Ortiz-Davis said over the past two months she and her employees have logged 336 hours making the blankets. Some make them on their lunch breaks, others work at home with family members.
"They are all hand-made with love," she said. "We also plan to continue making even more blankets through the end of September for Project Linus."
Meeker said she is always looking for blankets and donations. Anyone interested can make a brand new homemade blanket and deliver it to her at 979 E. 5675 South, South Ogden, 84405. Donations can be made to Project Linus, a tax-exempt 501(c) 3 organization.