Winter hats and mittens. These are necessary items during the cold months that can sometimes be taken for granted. However, a group of American Red Cross volunteers in the Quad Cities are not taking these items for granted. They are dedicated to using their talents for the good of others and have spent countless hours knitting items for children and military families in need.
The knitting group meets weekly in Moline and began in 2011. The group donates an average of 200 sets of handmade mittens each year, and in total these ladies have made and donated over 2,000 sets of mittens. knitted items since 2011. Mittens and hats are provided to service members and their families through the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.
“Hats, gloves and scarves are given out at events for homeless veterans, helping them stay warm throughout the winter. These knitted items not only provide physical comfort to our veterans, but also the personal touch of showing them that someone cares,” said Crystal Smith, Regional Director of Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces and to international services.
Carol Van De Walle has been there from the start. She helped form the group and is happy to see that it has continued over the years, even during the pandemic when they have met virtually in Zoom meetings or outdoors. None of the people in the group knew each other before joining, but now consider each other good friends.
“I think the camaraderie of people is what I appreciate the most. In our group, we like each other a lot and we support each other a lot. We have very talented people and we have beginners. It’s a very welcoming group. I really love having that connection, it’s been very rewarding,” she said.
Carol and her fellow band members have worked with the Rock Island Arsenal for the past few years, sending their handmade items for distribution to military families. Items ranging from knee blankets to tea towels to pet accessories, all of which have been graciously donated over the years.
“We feel like we’re helping our community and that’s important to all of us.” –Carol Van De Walle
Carol has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for 20 years and was previously part of our disaster team. She enjoys volunteering her time and is grateful to still have the opportunity to do so.
“It’s something I can do to keep contributing. The good thing about the Red Cross is that there’s something for everyone. When you’re young and strong, you can do some things and when you’re not there are other things you can do and you can still be helpful and helpful to your community and the Red Cross in general,” she said.
Trish Burnett, our Executive Director for the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois Chapter, has worked with these dedicated volunteers for many years and appreciates their regular efforts.
“Carol and the group of volunteers who donate their time to hand knit these items show their kindness and generosity time and time again. They are dedicated to military, Red Cross and community service and we very much appreciate their continued efforts,” she said.
This month, we celebrated the knitting group for their efforts at a reception in their honor. Please join us in thanking this team of dedicated volunteers for all they do!