By Madelyn Urabe SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)- Knitting groups can be found all across the country; but not all of them are knitting items to give back to their communities. The St. Lawrence Lutheran Church Knitting Group in Frankenmuth, Michigan is one of those rare groups that take donated yarn, and turn it into beautiful gifts for those less fortunate.
Lois Miller, founder of this knitting group of about 20 ladies, said the group started making prayer shawls and then branched out from there.
“It has just exploded and gone in all different directions” said Miller.
The group makes hats, scarves, mittens, and socks for homeless shelters but they also do more tailored projects such as chemo hats for cancer patients and hats for babies born at home to use on the ambulance ride to the hospital.
Currently, their main focus is on knitting afghan blankets for some pre-schoolers in Flint Michigan who are directly affected by the ongoing Flint water crisis. Located 30 minutes south of Frankenmuth, the Great Expectations Pre-school allows 45 young students, whose families live well under the poverty line, to get a well rounded education. As part of the weekly routine and because of Michigan law, the preschoolers receive a naptime during the school day but a lot of the student’s can not afford their own blanket. Their parents are forced to budget money to buy bottled water, since tap water is still unsafe to drink, and the pre-school can not afford to buy blankets for all of the students, according to Lois Miller’s daughter-in-law, Carolyn Miller.
Carolyn Miller is one of the directors at this preschool and said she reached out to her mother-in-law after she could not find another organization that could donate blankets.
“We don’t have very many supplies for the children who don’t bring their own blankets, so I asked if they would be willing to knit some. Some of the children are using towels because that is all we have. Rather than have hem lay on a mat without anything at all, I want to give them something,” said Carolyn.
The afghan blankets are perfect for the preschoolers as they are lightweight and warm. Lois and the rest of the knitting group have not set a deadline for when they want to have the blankets finished, but with the motivation to help these children, their plan is to have them done by summertime.
Even though the impact may seem small, to the children and families receiving gifts like the blankets, it’s huge. This knitting group just goes to show that anyone can use their free time, and favorite hobbies, to make a difference in the lives of others.