The Active Older Adults (AOA) Knitting Club, which is sponsored by the Kent County YMCA, is gearing up for their 12th annual Christmas Giveaway to benefit 14 select Rhode Island charity organizations. To date, the 25-member female group has knitted or crocheted more than 4,000 afghans.
The event will take place Dec. 7 at Atria Harborhill, an assisted living complex in East Greenwich from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Representatives from each of the agencies will visit to collect the goods and a buffet lunch for the groups, as well as the AOA, will follow at Atria Harborhill.
“It is a beautiful place to meet, work and spend time with friends,” said Louise Jarbeau, who has been a member of the AOA for eight years.
Throughout the year, they have made 280 large afghans, 93 small afghans, 292 pairs of mittens, 50 hat and scarf sets, 50 baby sets, 94 scarves, 38 knitted baby bears, 282 hats and six children’s sweaters for the cause. Additionally, they’ve also given approximately 300 pounds of food items to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Jarbeau said it is a joy to create items for those in need.
“It’s so satisfying to make things that other people appreciate,” she said. “We meet the people in charge of the agencies and enjoy hearing them talk about how appreciative all the people are when they give the items out because we don’t see those people. They’d rather have a homemade item instead of a toy. It makes my Christmas.”
To prepare for the giveaway, the AOA, which was formed by local resident Georgia McDermott in 2000, meets at the facility each Friday morning from 10 a.m. to noon. They formerly gathered at the YMCA on Centreville Road, but as the group expanded they relocated to Atria Harborhill.
“Every Friday we spend a few hours knitting or crocheting items, but we make most of the stuff at home,” said Jarbeau, who also noted that they donated several items to benefit Rhode Islanders impacted by Sandy via a recent clothing and food drive led by Cardi’s Furniture and Aprin Van Lines. “Some of the ladies can make an afghan a week. For myself, it takes a couple of weeks.”
She said small afghans take a couple of days to make, while scarves and hats take about two or three hours. One of the members made five hats in just a few days, said Jarbeau.
Local people make monetary donations to the Knitting Club and the members use the cash to purchase supplies, including yarn. Members of the club generously use their own money.
The agencies to benefit the efforts of the AOA are Amos House, Blessed Sacrament Church, Center for Individualized Training and Education, Children's Friend and Services, Crossroads, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, House of Hope, Kent County YMCA Y's Owl Nursery School, McCauley House, Mission is Possible, Mother of Life Center, Project Linus, Rhode Island Family Shelter and Rock Ministries.