YMCA knitting club a ‘pearl’ to non-profits


Thirteen is a lucky number; at least it would appear that way for Georgia McDermott.

On 12-13-13 – Friday the 13th – the Kent County YMCA knitters celebrated their 13th year of donating hand-knitted items to non-profits – 13 non-profit agencies to be precise, including the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center.

“I hope no one is superstitious,” McDermott said Friday as members of the group gathered at the Atria Harborhill on Division Street for their December meeting.

The occasion also marked the day that agency representatives picked up knitted items – mostly afghans, hats and mittens – to be distributed to the people they serve.

“We should really do something for the community,” McDermott recalls thinking, when she started a weekly group for knitters at the Kent County Y in 2000.

McDermott had experience running kitting groups. She ran a club when she was an assistant librarian at Northborough, Mass. The Y club started with 10 or 12 members and, as it grew, finding space became a problem. McDermott learned of the large meeting room at Atria Harborhill. It turned out to be an ideal location; a bright, sunny room.

McDermott raised seven children before she found her other calling for organizing people and causes. The Y knitters club has grown to about 30 members.

McDermott said that most of the knitting is done at home and the meetings become social events and that’s fine with her.

“For some of these women, it’s the highlight of the week,” she said.

The women, who range in age from 60 to 87, are often widows, but regardless of their age, “It’s a good outlet for everybody.”

Yarn and knitting needles are provided by the Y. McDermott’s son, Steve, has been a large supporter with considerable donations. And McDermott said she always welcomes donations of yarn dropped off at the YMCA.

At Friday’s event, a year’s work was arranged in a separate room, in neat piles, for each of the agencies. Agency representatives described their work and the importance of the items to their groups. Harborhill treated the club to lunch.

The group also collected 260 pounds of food for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

In the 13 years, the club has been meeting weekly with the exception of December’s single gathering. McDermott estimates the women have knitted 4,000 afghans. As for what the group produced this year, McDermott put the items at more than the 1,100 produced last year.

“It’s more than 1,300,” she said, and there’s that 13 again.


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