Hooked on helping the needy


Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

Jackalin Martin of Dayton broke out the knitting and crocheting needles a decade ago when her son wrote from Afghanistan, where he had been deployed as a member of the Army Reserve.

"It was a lot colder there than they thought it would be ... He said, 'Mom, send us some helmet liners," Martin said. "We got ourselves some camouflage yarn and went to work."

She and her husband made 52 helmet liners and sent them overseas; the troops posed for a photo wearing them.

These days, Martin is knitting and crocheting for others in need a little closer to home: poor children in schools, the homeless on Shelton's streets, elderly residents in retirement homes, the mothers of new babies.

On Monday, Martin arrived with nine hats and scarves, a shawl and a pair of leggings at Yards of Yarn in Shelton for the gathering of Loving Hearts of South Puget Sound.

The members of the group knit and crochet together from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. the third and fourth Mondays of the month at 1800 Olympic Highway S. Their creations go to organizations that include the CareNet Pregnancy Center, Community Lifeline, Project Rachel for the Seattle Archdiocese, Vista Oncology and Shelton nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.

The members have made about 75 of the 150 hats they plan to give the school backpack programs and about 20 of the 75 hats they've promised to be distributed at the community meals at St. David of Wales Episcopal Church. They've pledged to create 400 items for Christmas presents at nursing and rehabilitation centers.

The knitters and crocheters gather at Yards of Yarn courtesy of owner Karen Chesnik. She calls the dedication of the members "compassionate, selfless — it's beautiful."

"I can just imagine the smiles there will be on Christmas in the nursing homes and the smiles on the children when it's cold and they'll have something to put on," she said.

Chesnik added, "There's always time to help one another. This group shows how they take the time to be there to help."

The South Puget Sound group was founded in October 2013 by Shelton resident Hilda Ware, who joined a friend at her Gig Harbor gathering of Loving Hearts.

"God laid it on my heart to start one in Shelton," Ware said.

Three women joined together to knit and crochet in the library at First Baptist Church in Shelton. The move to Yards of Yarn gives them a spot to store their yarn and other materials.

Clara Perry-Lathan of Union joined the group for the first time Monday. Last year, she returned to Mason County after 15 years teaching women to knit, sew, crochet and start small businesses in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

"All of my life, I've done community-service things," she said.

Pat Moss has been a member of the group for about five months. Her husband met Ware, and after hearing about the group, volunteered his wife's services.

"He's so sure I don't have anything to do," Moss said with a laugh. "His heart is in the right place."

Other members work at home and deliver their hats and scarves to the group.

"I can just imagine the smiles there will be on Christmas in the nursing homes ani the smiles on the children when it's cold and they'll have something to put on."

Karen Chesnik, owner of Yards of Yarn in Shelton

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