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Afghan Group reaches out to shelters

Created date

September 21st, 2009

[caption id="attachment_3184" align="alignright" width="228" caption="Members of the Afghan Group at Brooksby display some of their latest efforts. From left to right: Carol Reid, Ruth Briggs, Claire (Bettie) Loughhead, and Beverly Kenworthy. (Photo by Setarreh Massihzadegan)"][/caption] These are not for sale; they re meant to be given, Beverly Kenworthy says, gesturing toward a stack of colorful afghans. Kenworthy and her Afghan Group at Brooksby Village have met many people willing to pay good money for their elegantly stitched creations, but they stand firm that their heartfelt efforts, backed by decades of knitting experience, are solely to be gifts for local shelters. In the two and a half years since Kenworthy began organizing the group, she and her cohorts have made and donated more than 120 afghans to HAWC, a shelter for abused women and men in Salem, and Fort Devens, an army training base in Lancaster. When we brought these afghans in, you just never saw anything like it, Kenworthy recalls of a recent trip to Fort Devens. These women come with nothing. [And] this is something to really cheer the children.

Weaving friendships

With 72 years of knitting experience, Kenworthy says the craft is her way of relaxing. Charitable work is also nothing new to her; before deciding to move to Brooksby, she had been knitting for charity as part of a group in Acton, where she lived. Kenworthy started the Brooksby group after someone recommended she begin doing something for herself while her husband was in the hospital. So with a little help from Brooksby s Community Resources department, she got started. Thirty-eight people showed up for the first meeting. Since then, the group has grown to encompass about 50 people. Those who are involved knit on their own in Kenworthy s case, about eight hours a day and get together on Tuesday mornings at 11 to pool their squares and enjoy one another s company. Over the years and with Kenworthy s leadership, the women have combined their squares of carefully chosen colors into seamless creations. For Claire (Bettie) Loughhead, one of the best parts of being in thegroup is seeing the finished squares and thinking, Maybe I did that one, she says. In addition to afghans, members of the group have constructed friendships. I have the nicest friends I ve ever had in my life, Kenworthy says, looking around at some of her most dedicated knitters. Carol Reid, her friend and the group member responsible for sewing up the loose ends on every afghan, says to Kenworthy, You re the glue that puts the whole thing together.

Always more to add

The Afghan Group s selfless efforts have spurred the generosity of others as well. When the group was last featured in this newspaper in 2007, a band of knitters in Florida read the story and began regularly sending their squares to the Brooksby ladies. On another occasion, when Kenworthy was in the checkout line at Wal-Mart, her arms full of yarn, the woman beside her in line inquired about the purpose of all that yarn. When Kenworthy finished explaining, the woman handed her $20 for the purchase. Kenworthy says anyone interested in getting involved can knit even just one square and provide a worthy contribution to the whole, adding: Every square is precious.