Q. How did you become involved in the project or cause?
A. About two and a half years ago, along with 4 great ladies, we started a CGOA Chapter ... the first in Connecticut! We loved to crochet and we were happy when we did so together, so we named ourselves "The Happily Hooked on Crochet Club" and have been involved with our local community ever since. We had read in our local paper how our local charities were hurting after 9/11 -- apparently people were giving so much from the heart to those effected by 9/11 that there was little to give locally. So we decided we'd put our crochet efforts to good use by concentrating locally.
Q. How did you translate your hobby into something special for the community or an organization?
A. In the time since starting the Connecticut Chapter, we've aided many local charities with our crocheted goods ... from Friends of Karen, Inc. (aid terminally ill children & their families); Danbury Hospital (Preemie hats & blankets); Salvation Army (hats, mittens, scarves & a Toy Drive); Danbury Battered Women's Center (afghans, pillows, toys, clothing ... all crocheted) to extending our care to those suffering from wild fires in the West (sent knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn and patterns to shelters to give those effected something to do while waiting to see if they had homes to return to). We also travel between three states (CT, NY, MA) promoting the art of crochet at various venues, offering free beginner crochet lessons. These demonstrations are well received by the public.
Q. What Lion Brand yarn did you use?
A. If Lion Brand makes it, we use it! Currently with the preemie blankets we are making, we use the yarns such as Jamie, and Pound of Love. For the Caps of Cancer we're also concentrating on right now, Homespun. Wool-Ease works up beautifully for the hats, mittens & scarves that we'll work on this fall.
Q. How many items does your group make in a month or a year?
A. We concentrate on three charity drives a year, with the Danbury Hospital and the Salvation Army being our highest priority. The third charity is selected as a group vote, but must be local to qualify. We make about 100 preemie afghans/hats per donation; about 70 sets of hats, mittens & scarves for the Salvation Army, and whatever is needed for the third charity.
Q. How much time do you and/or your group dedicate to the charitable project?
A. Each charity project is given four months of time, with items collected at each monthly meeting.
Q. How many people have benefited?
A. Hundreds have benefited from our efforts ... from those just born and fighting for their lives, to those shivering from the cold Connecticut winter winds & storms -- and more will benefit this year! :)
Q. What would you say to other knitters or crocheters to encourage them to lend their hands to a cause-related effort?
A. To fill a bucket of water, it all starts with one drop. I teach crochet and encourage my students from beginner to advanced levels to consider doing something with their crochet skills to benefit others. I advise them that a beginner can practice their stitches and gauge by making squares for Warm Up America ... they work up quick, and when the squares are connected with other people's squares it makes a great afghan to help keep someone warm. For the more advanced crocheters, I encourage them to take on a project a little more involved -- perhaps a pair of mittens, or a hat to benefit the homeless. Since these projects are not big and time consuming, it's easier for them to see how they could help their local communities.
Q. Has the local media reported on your project?
A. We've been recognized by our local paper in 2001, and by Fox TV news in 2002. Getting the local media to do these stories on our group aided in bringing more members into the fold, and increasing our abilities to aid our local community.
Q. If you know, how has your work effected the people for whom you have made donations.
A. Last year, the Salvation Army presented us with an Award for our generosity and told us how much the people who received our items appreciated them. Without our contribution, they advised, many would not have had a hat to keep their head warm, or mittens to keep their hands warm. And, this past March, we met a mother at one of our Crochet demonstrations. She told us the story of how she gave birth to a preemie baby that did not survive. She said she kept the crocheted blanket she received from the hospital to remember her child -- it's something tangible to hold, to hug. She smiled at us and said that she recently gave birth to another child; this one survived. And this is why she came to us; she wanted to learn how to crochet so that this child could have it's own crocheted blanket to hold, to hug.