Group gives comfort to ill, needy
Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012 12:00 am
Through the efforts of a local volunteer group, infants born into needy families as well as chemo patients and the homeless are getting covered.
Members of the organization, called Holy Needles, crochet and knit beanies, blankets and booties for impoverished newborns. They also supply snuggly stuff to ailing kids and adults who have no place to live.
And we're not talking just a few items. A few weeks ago Holy Needles distributed 1,294 items to Northwest Medical Center, Crisis Pregnancy Center, and to the nursery and pediatrics oncology department at University of Arizona Medical Center. That represents Holy Needles' largest single donation ever for its quarterly distribution.
"There seems to be an increase in the volume of people who are active - they seem to be desiring to do more," Donna Bishop, the group's founder and coordinator, said of volunteers.
Founded in March 2009, Holy Needles has donated more than 8,700 homemade items, mostly to newborns, in the Tucson area.
Bishop, who says she puts in around 60 hours a month volunteering for the group, began Holy Needles after she picked up crocheting.
"It really started eating at me that I needed to start a group to find out what to make for the community … there was an enormous need to make baby items and it just made sense that this group was going to focus on newborns," she said.
Bishop, 56, used her network from Casas Church on North La Cholla Boulevard to get more people to join her ranks and get startup money and supplies such as yarn and fleece.
The group has grown from eight original members to around 50 current members, said group member Pam Halbert. She attributes a lot of the group's success to its bimonthly meetings at Casas Church.
"The meetings are just busy. People bring in items and supplies and they sit and work," Halbert said. "It's a fun time to share ideas and all are crafty ladies with a lot of chatter and high energy."
The large amount of items Holy Needles makes requires lots of supplies. The group receives materials through donations, often after posting ads on Craigslist or after people visit the Holy Needles Facebook page.
"We're always looking for donations with supplies such as yarn. Our ladies are very busy and we have very limited supplies," Halbert said.
In early 2010, Holy Needles received a donation of 750 yards of high-quality black fleece from Polartec. So the group expanded its efforts to making blankets for the homeless as well as for chemo patients in oncology centers.
"When we get something like that, it just opens up the need to give our items to someone else," Bishop said.
Going forward, Holy Needles will continue to make items for newborns. Bishop is anticipating the possibility of moving away this summer, which will likely leave the group under the leadership of a committee with divided responsibilities. Bishop's absence will be felt across the organization.
"She's the primary leader and it wouldn't have been started without her. She's put in countless hours," said Holy Needles member Pat Thompson.
Despite Bishop's impending departure, her leadership has helped the group grow in size and diversity, with volunteers ranging from women in their early 20s to women in their 80s.
"We are just thrilled to be able to make a little something for these families so that they get a little bit of comfort," Bishop said.
For Thompson, getting recognition from the families makes her efforts worth it.
"Those notes from the little girls at the hospital make me cry," she said of thank-you notes she receives from children in the oncology ward or parents of newborns. "It's great to feel their gratefulness and surprise."
Find out more
Holy Needles meets from 1 to 4 p.m. the third Monday of each month and 9 a.m. to noon the last Saturday of each month in the Ocotillo building at Casas Church, 10801 N. La Cholla Blvd. Go to holyneedles.blogspot.com for more information.
John Kuells is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4117.
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/northwest/group-gives-comfort-to-ill-needy/article_c4b2f44a-a959-54dd-b494-0294681a09d8.html#ixzz1rDVRmctQ