Oakmont knitting group donates 1,000th sweater to worldwide charity
A group of knitters has given the gift of comfort and warmth a thousand times over to children around the world.
That’s because they made and donated their 1,000th sweater for World Vision’s Knit for Kids program.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that works with families worldwide to provide emergency assistance.
The program unites thousands of volunteer knitters to fight poverty through sweaters, blankets, hats and other handmade creations.
Oakmont resident Carol Swift is the chairwoman of the arts and crafts group at the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network retirement community, Longwood at Oakmont.
She said the group of knitters got involved with Knit for Kids after her daughter, Kathy Wesley, informed them of the program in 2007. That year, they made 66 sweaters.
“The 1,000th just kind of came to mind when the yearly accumulations began to add up,” Swift said. “The prize (for knitting that sweater) was a new knitting bag I made and money donated to members of the group for incidental repair jobs.”
Resident Betty Carlson made the milestone 1,000th sweater this month. She joined the group a little more than a year ago.
“I’m embarrassed because everybody else had done so much work before I walked in the door with that 1,000th sweater,” she said. “I just happened to walk in with the sweater. It’s no big deal, but it’s big for them here because they’ve been knitting so long and doing so well for the charity.”
Carlson said she donated the undisclosed amount of cash gained as a prize for knitting the 1,000th sweater to the Salvation Army Greater Pittsburgh Women’s Auxiliary.
The sweater is blue with variegated, colored stripes around the body, meaning it has more than one color strand of thread.
“The project is well worthwhile,” Carlson said. “We know that World Vision is a good organization to support because they do help people.”
Carlson, 92, gained a love of knitting at a young age. She even worked in the knitting department of a shop in Jamestown, N.Y. while in high school.
“It is relaxing and something you can put down, walk away from and a week later pick up where you left off,” Carlson said.
The group meets Wednesdays in the retirement community’s craft room, but most of the knitting takes place in the members’ homes.
“I cannot just sit still and do nothing when I’m watching television,” said resident Hope Horst, 92, who has been with the group about eight years. “It keeps your hands busy, and you’re doing something worthwhile at the same time. We’re always anxious to have new people join us.”
Longwood’s sweaters are made from donated acrylic yarn, so they are more durable and washable. They’re given to a distribution center in Sewickley for packaging and shipment.
Volunteers don’t need to be members of Longwood to participate. People can donate yarn at 500 Coxcomb Hill Road.
More information about the retirement community is available at longwoodatoakmont.com.
Carol Wylie, World Vision vice president of corporate engagement, commended the ladies for their charitable accomplishment.
“We’re so thankful for our tireless volunteers who pour love into every stitch,” Wylie said. “Through their efforts and World Vision’s Knit for Kids program, over half a million children have received something new, that is just for them, for the first time in their lives.
“For those children, a handmade item isn’t just a blanket, cap, or sweater. It’s a chance at better health. It’s protection and warmth from freezing temperatures.
”And it’s a physical reminder that someone elsewhere in the world cares about them and believes in their future potential, even if they’ve never met face to face.”
World Vision received more than 124,000 handmade items last year. Among the places they were shipped are Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi, Chicago, Costa Rica, Dallas, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Lebanon, New York, Nicaragua and Peru.
The organization received more than 23,700 items from knitters across the country so far this year. More information is available at knitforkids.org.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .