Monday, May 23, 2022
Homeless Memorial Blanket Project
Scott McLarty, 202-878-2112,
Illinoisans focus on school kids experiencing homelessness in the national effort to craft and contribute blankets for families without homes
• HEAR US: Giving Voice and Visibility to Homeless Children and Youth
“My Own Four Walls,” award-winning video produced by HEAR US
• Homeless Remembrance Blanket – Illinois: Facebook page with photos and article links 
• People across the US with sewing, knitting, crocheting, and quilting skills are invited to join the project: Find a state at
WASHINGTON, DC — As more Illinoisans get involved in the nationwide effort to create and compile homemade blankets for distribution to unhoused individuals and families, the Homeless Memorial Blanket Project is recalling their state’s lead in providing education for school-age children experiencing homelessness.
Participants in the project, which promises to be the largest social justice art installation of blankets in DC since the AIDS Quilt, are using their sewing, knitting, crocheting, and quilting skills to make blankets to be distributed to people without homes.
Blanket makers in Illinois are creating designs with educational themes as well as colors and images from Dora the Explorer to Harry Potter through Star Wars and more for children and teens.
“Since Illinois is the ‘birthplace’ of strong educational rights for students experiencing homelessness, and those involved with HEAR US were on the ground for that campaign, we want to lead the charge for Illinois’ involvement in the Memorial Blanket Project,” said Diane Nilan, president of HEAR US.
“People don’t think of kids experiencing homelessness. Blankets made for kids will give this a visual impact that will open eyes, minds and hearts,” said Ms. Nilan.
The state of Illinois has played a unique and history-making role in providing education for children dealing with housing insecurity.
The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act (“McKinney Act”), passed in 1987, offered little protection for children and it remained legal to deny kids without homes access to school. In 1994, Illinois passed much stronger legislation, the Illinois Education Act for Homeless Children, which became the basis of amendments to the original federal law, including a requirement that schools admit kids without homes, permission for kids to stay in their school of origin, free transportation to school, and clearer definitions of homelessness.
Pat LaMarche, founder of the Homeless Memorial Blanket Project, tells the story of the Illinois act’s passage, one family’s experiences in Chicago, and the role of the organization HEAR US in “Heroes for Homeless Kids Celebrate in Aurora” (Huffington Post, May 8, 2014,
“The educational rights of students experiencing homelessness has long been a commitment in Illinois. The presence of kids’ blankets at the Memorial Blanket Project will make a vital statement about this often-ignored segment of our nation’s homeless population,” said Barb Schneider, retired school social worker, HEAR US board member and co-chair of the project’s HEAR US initiative.
The Homeless Memorial Blanket Project is preparing a display of blankets  to cover 9,000 square feet of the West Lawn of the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Dec. 21, 2022.
The project has participants in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The other most active states include South Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, and Montana.
“Kids receiving these blankets, in Illinois and across the nation, will feel the love that the blanket makers put in their creation. The DC exhibit will attract needed attention to homelessness and hopefully inspire more efforts to address this growing issue,” said Diane Nilan.
Volunteers in each state are being asked to make at least 100 blankets, providing ten for the Capitol Lawn display and donating another 90 or more to outreach programs in their area. Typical blankets dimensions are 35″ x 80″ and 60″ x 80″ with a variety of fabrics, fibers, and colors.
The Homeless Memorial Blanket Project is hosted by the Charles Bruce Foundation (, which is located in central Pennsylvania. The Dec. 21 display will be an arts installation by this nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
Anyone interested in participating in this project can sign up for their state at
Homeless Memorial Blanket Project on Facebook (national group)
To find a state Facebook group, type Homeless Remembrance Blanket and the state’s name in Search
Press release: Homeless Memorial Blanket Project, providing homemade blankets for individuals and families without homes, plans display on the West Lawn of the Capitol in DC on Dec. 21
March 16, 2022
Nonprofit Seeks Artisans Across US to Help the Unhoused
Daily Kos, February 6, 2022
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