Dream weavers: Volunteers craft items for needy

Day by day

Dream weavers: Volunteers craft items for needy

By LIZ THOMPSON
October 18, 2016
This Week News

Now that cold weather is upon us, I get the urge to knit and crochet.

My friend Sandy Maxim of Gahanna (Ohio) told me about the ministry she knits for at St. Matthew Apostle Church. In 2015, the Knitting/Crocheting Ministry distributed 13,237 handmade items to 40 different organizations. That’s a lot of stitches.

Glenda Neely, also of Gahanna, told me it all began in 1990. Her mother had been diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy and given a five-year prognosis.

“My sister, Paula, and I got her knitting lessons,” Neely said. “She began making scarves and hats and giving them to the Worthington United Methodist Church. Soon people were giving her yarn to make more, until she died in 1995.”

That same year, Neely saw a homeless person at Morse Road and Interstate 71 wearing one of her mother’s knitted hats. She knew her mother’s work should continue.

After Neely married, she joined St. Matthew. For seven years, she made scarves and gave them to her church for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She also gave crochet lessons from 1997-98, and the idea grew by word of mouth.

Neely and eight other women now teach eighth-grade boys and girls at St. Matthew to knit and crochet. About 50 students give up part of their lunch hour to learn.

Many people have volunteered over the years by donating yarn and money to buy yarn, and by knitting/crocheting items in their homes. Presently, more than 150 people knit and crochet, and not just in Ohio.

In 2015, friends of Neely’s put an article about the ministry in Grit Magazine. Soon after publication, she received donations of yarn, hats and scarves from all over the U.S.

“We’ve received donations from at least 25 states,” Neely said. “One woman in Clifton, Colorado, had an urge to buy a round loom.”

After that reader saw the ministry’s website, she got busy. Recently she sent 79 hats. That was not her first donation.

“Since 1995, we have been blessed to make 78,295 items. We make men’s, women’s, children’s, teens’ and toddlers’ hats and scarves; baby blankets; lap robes; and little hats for preemies,” Neely said.

St. Pius X Church in Reynoldsburg (Ohio) also is involved. Neely takes yarn to the Pickerington (Ohio) Senior Center and to her hometown of Canton for people to make items.

A prayer, “May God bless you and keep you warm and safe,” is attached to each item.

In early November, thousands of items will be sorted at Mifflin (Ohio) Presbyterian Church for distribution and delivery.

“Organizations let us know their needs,” Neely said.

“I have a wonderful group of ladies who know what needs to be done, and they just do it (on distribution day),” she said. “We have a lot of fun.”

Anyone can drop off donations of yarn or finished items at the St. Matthew church office, 807 Havens Corners Road, Gahanna. Include a name, address and phone number so organizers can send a personal note. Checks can be made out to Mrs. Glenda Neely, with “The Knitting/Crocheting Ministry” on the memo line. All money is used to buy yarn.

At First Community Church in Grandview Heights (Ohio) and Hilliard (Ohio), volunteers crochet for the needy in another way. Their Mat Ministry began in 2013.

Plastic shopping bags are cut into strips and looped to make “plarn” — plastic strips wound like yarn — which is crocheted into 6-by-3-foot sleeping mats, mainly for the homeless.

“Since 2013, we have distributed over 200 mats to Heart to Heart at First Community, NNEMAP food pantry, Blue Star Mothers, an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and to a mission in Guatemala,” Marble Cliff resident Joan Talmage said. “The mats are used by homeless people to lie or sit on, or as blankets. People in homes may not have bedding or beds and … people use them to cover drafty doors and windows.”

This ministry needs help making plarn more than it needs additional bags. For information, call 614-486-1269.

First Community also has a knitting ministry. Many churches and organizations have similar ministries. Check them out and get knitting or crocheting.

The need is great when the cold winds blow.

 

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