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Needlework, knitting, and pillowcases

Tight-knit community puts talents toward helping others

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August 20th, 2013
Needlework, knitting, and pillowcases
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Organized chaos is how Vivian Bleakney describes the annual Linden Ponds event that transforms the Derby Clubhouse art room into a pillowcase production line. We have a wonderful time. You think nothing s getting done, and after the first hour, you start to see a pile of brightly colored finished pillowcases in the corner, says Vivian, who also leads the needlework group at Linden Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass. Each year, people who live at Linden Ponds gather to make pillowcases for donation to pediatric cancer patients at local hospitals. This year s goal was to create 100 pillowcases for donation to ConKerr Cancer, a national organization that provides the pillowcases as a source of comfort and cheer for young patients. Each time, we have people we ve never had before, Vivian says of the event s ability to draw new volunteers, this year attracting more than 20 people. You do not have to be willing to sew, she adds. Folding fabric, ironing, and rolling the pillowcases are other available tasks, performed with fuel from conversation, coffee, and homemade cookies.

Giving back

The pillowcase drive is just one way the talented Linden Ponds artisans donate their skills and time to charitable organizations. Vivian s needlework group also makes baby quilts for patients of the nearby South Shore Hospital s neonatal unit. Vivian estimates the group has donated about 250 baby quilts over the last five years. Another active group, the Chit Chat Knitters, unites knitters and crocheters who gather to create pieces for a variety of charitable organizations. Led by Deb Graham, who lives at Linden Ponds, the group of about 30 active members knits shawls for people of Linden Ponds own continuing care community, Rose Court. The group knits about 50 shawls each year. There is so much talent, and there are knitters here that don t belong to our group that knit on their own. Some of the things that they turn out are just magnificent, Deb says. The group also creates afghans and teddy bears for a local South Shore homeless coalition and hats for Caps for Kids, an organization that provides hats to children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy treatments. The caps go to patients of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The knitters are now preparing holiday items for sale at the Linden Ponds artisan fair in November. Proceeds from items sold at the annual fair go to the community s Benevolent Care Fund. Linden Ponds is a not-for-profit community dedicated to supporting residents who experience an unforeseen change in their financial situation, through no fault of their own. The Home for Life Commitment provides several options for them to protect their future. Details are in the Residence and Care Agreement.

Rewarding endeavor

The Linden Ponds volunteers have received meaningful thank you messages for their efforts. Vivian says the nurses at South Shore Hospital have sent notes thanking the group for the baby quilts, and ConKerr Cancer also sent a note. The Chit Chat Knitters received an envelope full of thank you notes from various children who had gotten the caps, but Deb says the most rewarding response came from the rare repair job the group did on some sweaters belonging to a gentleman at Linden Ponds. The gentleman made a donation to the Benevolent Care Fund in the group s name. It was very gratifying to see how thoughtful he was, Deb says.

Sharing talents

Meetings of the Chit Chat Knitters and the needlework group are not just places for creation, but also opportunities to exchange ideas and skills. We are called Chit Chat for a reason, Deb says. Sometimes during the two hours we come up with more ideas than we do actual knitting projects. Most of the knitters work on their projects outside the Monday morning meetings, and Deb says she spends about 15 to 20 hours each week knitting, though she considers her skill level intermediate. It s amazing: we have every range of knitter and crocheter, Deb says, referring to those who had never knitted to the very experienced. It s informal; we help each other. When we decide there s something we want to learn, we get together and have a learning group. Recently, group members learned how to make socks. Vivian says the pillowcase project provided an opportunity for participants to learn to make the hot dog pattern pillowcase. One volunteer decided to put her new skills to use to make them for her grandchildren. All because she came that Friday and learned how to do it, Vivian says. The needlework group s efforts to make baby quilts are an excellent opportunity to learn quilting on a smaller scale and to decide whether a larger project might appeal to them, Vivian says. Like the Chit Chat meetings, Vivian describes the needlework group s sessions as: It s just sit down and gab with us and work on your project and maybe ask for help. Friendship is exchanged at the group meetings as much as skills and ideas. This is probably the most wonderful bunch of women that I could have possibly gotten to know, says Deb, who became involved shortly after moving to Linden Ponds about a year and a half ago.

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