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Volunteer turns her passion for crochet into donations

Stress relief takes on many different forms but for one Wellmark employee, it looks like a couple of crochet hooks and some yarn. For Susan Smith, Wellmark human resources operations specialist, crocheting is just what she needs to decompress. It not only equals stress relief, but also a valuable donation to a worthy nonprofit.

Susan, who crochets nearly every night, ended up with many finished projects. But how many blankets does one family need? That's when Susan happened upon Project Linus.

Susan's creative outlet

As a member of Wellmark's Inclusion Council, Susan was helping with a youth fair where she was introduced to Project Linus. She did her research on the nonprofit and was able to get connected to the Iowa chapter.

Project Linus provides blankets to kids who are either struggling or have been displaced. Volunteers make the blankets — quilted, knitted, or crocheted — from materials they purchase themselves or from materials donated to the organization.

Susan donated around 65 baby blankets in 2020, and in just the first quarter of 2021, has already donated 12 baby blankets.

"It's great that my stress reliever is providing comfort to the kiddos who need just a little something to call their own sometimes," said Susan.

"Follow your passion and it will reward you"

But Project Linus isn’t the only organization benefitting from Susan's stress relief. Through The Wellmark Foundation's BluesCare GivingSM program, she is also able to benefit other organizations, including the Crisis Intervention Advocacy Center, ParenTeen, and the Lupus Foundation of Iowa, with her personal volunteer time.

Susan has been involved with several nonprofits for more than 35 years, serving in a variety of roles for the different organizations as a volunteer, board member and even part-time executive director.

Susan says she benefits just as much from her volunteering as the organizations that receive her time. "I see it as a way to give back and sometimes it's a way to pay it forward," she said.

“There is such a need right now, especially with the coronavirus pandemic, I encourage anyone considering volunteering to make contact with an organization — follow your passion and it will reward you."

To find out if your nonprofit organization is eligible for the BluesCare Giving program, contact Send Email.