Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tucson's Arizona Daily Star article: Group makes, gives out 200 blankets for homeless

published December 20, 2010

Some homeless Tucsonans received the gift of warmth Sunday at downtown's Z Mansion.

Two hundred black fleece blankets were passed out to men and women at a weekly brunch hosted by WORKship Methodist Church, which was founded by Tom and Em Hill.

The church provides hot meals for the homeless each Sunday outside the Z Mansion, which the Hills own.

On Sunday, the guests - the volunteers don't refer to them as homeless - were served sliced ham, mashed potatoes, salad, fruit, cheese and sweets.

As the guests left, each was given a sack lunch and gift bag full of toiletries and other treats.

Their hands were also full with new fleece blankets.

Holy Needles, a local group that fashions beanies, blankets and booties for disadvantaged newborns, produced 200 blankets over the last couple of months to pass out at Sunday's brunch.

"It feels absolutely awesome to help the community and make them something they can use," said Donna Bishop, coordinator of Holy Needles.

More than 20 volunteers cut the fleece into blankets.

"They'll cover the head and the feet and keep them nice and warm," said Bishop, who volunteers at the brunch once a month with Casas Church.

Earlier this year, the group received a donation of 750 yards of fleece from Polartec that allowed it to branch out and help others.

Holy Needles donates more than 500 baby items to hospitals and birthing centers every three months.

But on Sunday, it was all about another needy group.

Michael Moyers was ecstatic after a volunteer handed him a blanket.

"It will keep me warm," he said.

Joyce Thompson was amazed by the quality of her new blanket.

"This is soft," she said. "For me, it's so cozy. I'm going to wrap myself up in it."
Holy needles... The local group is always in need of donations of fleece, yarn and cash.

Contact the group by e-mail at or go to its website at for more information.

Contact reporter Andrea Rivera at or 807-8430.

The Explorer - The Voice of Marana, Oro Valley and Northwest Tucson Archives News Holy Needles makes, donating 200 blankets for the homeless

The Explorer - The Voice of Marana, Oro Valley and Northwest Tucson Archives News Holy Needles makes, donating 200 blankets for the homeless

Published: December-15-2010 12:10am

Special to The Explorer

Holy Needles, the Northwest group that creates handmade needlework for needy people, is donating nearly 200 fleece blankets to the homeless this Sunday, Dec. 19.

The Casas Church-based group formed in March 2009 to create beanies, blankets and booties for Tucson’s disadvantaged newborns. In its 21 months, Holy Needles has distributed more than 3,600 items to those in need.
Donna Bishop, coordinator for Holy Needles, sent an e-mail to the clothing company Polartec last spring, asking if it would have any scraps or end rolls it could donate. “I told them a little bit about who we were. Their response, 12 rolls” of free, high-quality black fleece, adding up to 750 yards of material, more than 4/10ths of a mile.

“It’s an awful lot,” Bishop said.

The donation gave Holy Needles “an opportunity to reach out to others in need, beyond newborns,” a release said. Members have created blankets, trimmed with a crocheted border and a cancer ribbon symbol, for chemotherapy centers. Lap blankets and shawls have been created and bordered in crochet for the homebound. Infant blankets are also trimmed in crochet and distributed for newborns in need at local hospitals. Fleece from Polartec has also been used to create teddy bears and scarves.
Each of the blankets for homeless people is 70 by 90 inches. Presentation of those blankets begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Z Mansion, 288 N. Church Ave.

On average, some 40 women meet twice a month — the third Monday from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Ocotillo Building at Casas Church, 10801 N. La Cholla, and the last Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in the Saguaro Building at the church — to create items.
People are welcome to join Holy Needles, Bishop said.
“Our door’s always open, even if they don’t know how to do crochet, knit, quilt or sew,” Bishop said. “We teach them. A lot of the people involved are new at the craft.”
For more information, go to

Learn to Crochet