Cruise Passengers Donate 600 Blankets to Children After World Voyage
When Holland America Line guests embark on a Grand World Voyage, they’re likely looking forward to one bucket-list adventure after the next. What they may not expect is a group of volunteers knitting and crocheting blankets on the world cruise for Project Linus in support of children in need. For Gail and Marty Gottlieb, hosting fellow “blanketeers” isn’t just a fun activity to enjoy while cruising around the world – it’s a passion project.
Project Linus is a nonprofit organization that provides handmade blankets to children (up to 18 years old) in the U.S. who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Holland America Line supports our passenger volunteers by contributing to materials and helping to secure space onboard where they can knit and crochet their beautiful pieces. After learning about the organization in 2017, and meeting volunteers that sail the seas creating one blanket after the next, the Gottliebs couldn’t resist the worthwhile cause.
Marty has a saying: “Every blanket is beautiful, and it was made from the heart with love.”
There’s definitely a lot of love woven through each one, which can take up to six weeks to complete. There’s also a lot of yarn. In fact, the Gottliebs gathered one million yards of yarn in more than 40 different colors for the 2023 Grand World Voyage. You read that right: ONE MILLION YARDS! They purchased 100 percent acrylic yarn directly from manufacturers, sorted through it all in their garage, and then rented a truck to haul the supplies to the cruise terminal before embarking on their grand adventure. And speaking of adventure, the Gottliebs have had many with Holland America Line.
“We cruise over 200 days a year,” Gail said. “We do the world cruise every January – May. In August, we fly to Europe and get on a Pinnacle Class ship for three months, bringing it back to Ft Lauderdale. The crew: they are like family, and we feel that this is our second home which happens to sail.”
Sailing is something Holland America Line has been doing for 150 years. Travel is our tradition, and the blanketeers not only share that tradition – they’re growing a new one and have been doing so for more than 15 years. When the Gottliebs got involved in 2018, nearly 40 guests helped create 150 blankets on the Grand World Voyage that year. They estimate that a few thousand blankets had been made in total at that point. Since they began leading the effort in 2019, the numbers have continued to grow from 300 blankets that year to more than 618 in 2023. This year’s donations were made possible by 160 volunteers. Every time a blanket is turned in, they ring a bell and walk around proudly sharing the heartfelt contribution. Once the ship returns to Ft. Lauderdale, the South Florida Chapter of Project Linus will gather the blankets and distribute them to more than 15 locations.
If you happen to set sail on a Grand World Voyage, stop by to meet these amazing blanketeers, and don’t hesitate to join the fun. You’ll see this volunteer activity highlighted in the Daily Program, and you’ll likely catch them in various venues onboard, from the World Stage to the Crow’s Nest. Even if you haven’t made blankets before, they’re more than happy to help you get started. You can also volunteer to help with other tasks if you don’t knit or crochet.
To all of those who have shared their hearts through this worthy cause, thank you. We’re confident your beautiful blankets will comfort children for years to come.
I was very happy to be part of this.
I even taught a few people how to crochet, and I am looking forward to doing it again in 2024.
Thank you Gail and Marty, for all your tireless effort.