BETHLEHEM Each year at Christmastime thousands of collections are started to provide gifts for needy families, but one local giving tree adds a personal touch sewn with care.
For more than two decades, the Delmar Progress Club’s Knitting Group has set up and decorated a tree at the Bethlehem Public Library filled with hats, mittens and scarves. Like many similar drives held annually at schools, businesses and non-profits, all of the winter gear is eventually donated to local charities, but this group’s tree is unique. Nearly every piece of clothing is handmade by club members throughout the year.
“I don’t know if people appreciate them more, but I think we enjoy doing it,” said club member Marge O’Brien. “This is such a friendly group, we do as much talking than anything else.”
The Delmar Progress Club was established in 1916 as a service group arm of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Members donate their time and resources, and also hold fundraisers for local charities. There are additional subgroups within the club for those with special interests or hobbies like gardening, reading or antiquing.
The Knitting Group was started in 1984, in no small part through the work of former President Rosemary Brown. It started with 25 ladies knitting lap blankets for seniors at Good Samaritan Nursing Home. Although group membership has stayed about the same, the number of items and causes they knit for has grown.
The group still makes blankets and brings them to a number of local nursing homes, with members knitting or crocheting squares that are then put together by Brown. Other women knit baby blankets and hats that are brought to local maternity wards and all members knit and crochet hats, gloves and scarves to place on the giving tree every December.
“Right now, I have three bags filled with about 100 pieces inside each,” said Brown. The tree will be placed in the library’s lobby, with all of the pieces tied on with ribbon.