HOMETOWN HEROES: Robyn Manley of Bennington makes special deliveries

Robyn Manley delivers blankets to Lakes Region General Hospital, before there was a Lakes Region Project Linus chapter.

Robyn Manley delivers blankets to Lakes Region General Hospital, before there was a Lakes Region Project Linus chapter. COURTESY PHOTO

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 10-27-2023 7:50 AM

When someone needed to step up, Robyn Manley of Bennington was there.

Manley made blankets for several years for the southwest New Hampshire chapter of Project Linus, which provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or in need, after reading about the local chapter in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript.

In 2016, when the chapter’s coordinator had to step aside, she took on the role in order to keep the chapter going.

“If there isn’t someone to accept responsibility for it, they close the chapter,” said Manley, who is retired. “I have let it become pretty much a full-time job, but it’s a lot of fun, and I have met a lot of very giving people.”

For her dedication as the local Project Linus coordinator, Manley is the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s Hometown Hero for October after being nominated by Sue Conklin of Antrim.

As coordinator, Manley is responsible for picking up blankets, checking for quality and making sure the blankets are washed, labeled and delivered. Conklin, who has been sewing blankets for the organization for five years, cited those efforts, along with Manley’s workshops and fundraisers.

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“She’s tireless,” Conklin said. “She’s absolutely amazing.”

The local Project Linus chapter has drop off locations in Hillsborough, Cheshire, Merrimack and Sullivan counties. It makes deliveries to more than 30 organizations, with Monadnock Community Hospital’s pediatric unit in Peterborough being one of the longest-standing locations.

“They see the parents’ reactions,” she said of nursing staff in pediatric units or birthing suites. “Many parents are amazed that someone who doesn’t even know them has made something for their child.”

In the last two years, Manley said Project Linus has delivered 6,000 blankets. She said she has a “houseful of blankets,”along with a great sense of being able to help children who need it.

“There seems to be a continual need for blankets to offer warmth and comfort for kids in need,” she said.

Hundreds of people quilt and volunteer, and Manley said it’s a way for people, particularly retirees, to continue doing a craft they enjoy.

“Some people make one a year, and some people make 15 a month,” she said. “People are very dedicated.”

Manley said she has put 120,000 miles on her Dodge Caravan in the past seven years. One recent week, she drove to Manchester, Nashua, Concord and Hooksett for pickups. She also delivers blankets to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital because the Project Linus chapter of southern Vermont folded.

“I go to Keene, anyway, and Brattleboro is just a little bit farther,” she said.

Manley, 72, said she will stay with Project Linus as long as she can, although she acknowledged she should probably start cultivating potential successors so the chapter can keep going after she leaves.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding, but there’s a lot of lifting. At the moment, I don’t see any reason to stop doing it,” she said.

For more on the Project Linus Southwest New Hampshire chapter, go to facebook.com/projectlinussouthwestnewhampshire.

Each month, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript will recognize one of our region’s many Hometown Heroes. Nominate a Hometown Hero at ledgertranscript.com/SpecialPages/Hometown-Heroes.