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Women bond for charity, purpose

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February 28th, 2009

When a large group of women get together, the results are almost always the same. There are peals of laughter, there are multiple conversations, and to an outsider it may sound like the incomprehensible buzzing of bees. But to the women, it is all about solidarity, purpose, and results. Two area women s groups one in Delaware County and one in Bucks County meet for all of those reasons, giving their time and resources to help others.

Comforting blankets

Project Linus is a national organization with 384 local chapters whose slogan plays on the old notion of security blankets: providing security through blankets. Based on the philosophically thumb-sucking Peanuts character, the organization has provided more than 2,600,000 blankets to children who are ill, traumatized, homeless, or in need, since 1995. Without his blanket, Linus was unable to function and think. After all, a blanket provides comfort, safety, love, and protection, and the children will inevitably be able to feel the love of the hands that made them. Frankie Moses, who lives at Maris Grove, in Delaware County, Pa., started the Project Linus Blanket Circle as a branch of the Chester/Delaware County National Chapter, two weeks after moving in last September. In the six short months the group has been meeting, they ve grown to approximately 60 members and have made 110 quilts, afghans, and blankets. All of this production happens in the group s weekly meetings. They talk; they crochet; they create the roots of community as strong as the threads that bind the blankets. In helping others, the women are connecting to each other. Moses origingally started Project Linus in Florida when she and her husband had moved there after being Philadelphia residents all their lives. "I had to find a way to connect to the community," Mrs. Moses says. Once they decided to move to Maris Grove, she brought all of her materials from Project Linus, so it was easy for her to start the group nearly upon arrival at Maris Grove.

Merry menders

Similarly at Ann s Choice, a group of women is taking the sewing world by storm. The Sit and Stitch group is divided into three different sections, says Doris Chism, an Ann s Choice resident and the group s founder. The menders repair new clothes by fixing faulty zippers and sewing on buttons; the knitters and crocheters make blankets and afghans; and the sewers make crafty items like wall hangers and rag quilts. The 30 members meet once a week, and it s a great place to socialize, says Felisa Owens, an active member. As the women socialize, they create meaningful items that benefit others. The clothes that the menders work on are for NGA, Inc. (formerly the Needlework Guild of America) New Clothes for New Tomorrows. The nonprofit organization works to provide new clothes and items to individuals who may be economically disadvantaged. NGA began in 1882 following a mining accident in Wales and was incorporated in Philadelphia in 1896. The group started to make clothes for the children who lost their parents in the accident, and even back then, Lady Diana Wolverton, founder, believed that "old garments might pauperize, but new garments equalize." NGA has been helping people ever since by distributing 110,515,719 items so far. The knitters and crocheters also make meaningful contributions. They donated more than 50 blankets to Renaissance Gardens, the assisted living neighborhood at Ann s Choice, and they ve made therapeutic items as well: carrying bags; hand muffs to warm residents hands; and huggers, plushy items that allow residents to hug something soft for comfort. They ve also donated items to the Project Linus organization, although Ann s Choice does not have a chapter yet. Sit and Stitch puts on a holiday sale in the fall, and the proceeds go to the Scholarship Fund, Mrs. Chism says. This fund helps student servers in the dining room receive a $1,000 scholarship for four years of college if they qualify. The money goes directly to their school of choice. There s no denying that the force of women coming together is a strong, inspiring union, and the women at Maris Grove and Ann s Choice are not only coming together to socialize; they are one voice blending together to make a difference.

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