“5,000 Hats? Y not?”
By Leslie Petrovski, Yarn Market News
Last fall, the senior knitting circle at the 92nd Street Y in New York City reached an important milestone: 5,000 hats knit for charity. The senior knitting circle, which has been meeting since 2011, was the inspiration of Phyllis Greenwald, a member of the Y’s Himan Brown Senior Program, who recognized the role knitting can play in keeping seniors mentally active and engaged.
Serving up to 700 people at any given time with dozens of programs every week, the Y’s Himan Brown Senior Program functions as a kind of lifelong-learning mini-versity, offering classes, lectures and other events to seniors ages 60 and older, explains program director Jo Frances Brown. Every Wednesday, 25 members of the knitting circle gather to knit hats for premature infants and cancer patients, work on individual projects or drop off what they’ve made. The group’s oldest member, 98-year-old Anita Sherman, knits one hat every night.
“We offer people instruction and camaraderie and free materials and whatever they need,” says Brown. “It’s a feel-good thing—creative and social and focused.”
The knitting’s circle’s first batch of 40 hats was donated in September 2011 to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Pediatric Day Hospital. Since then, hats have been distributed to New York–based institutions including New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital, Mount Sinai West and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, as well as hospitals nationwide including Vassar Brothers Medical Center—Dyson Center for Cancer Care, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center—Pediatric Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and more.
Last year the group set the goal of making 5,000 hats by November 28—Giving Tuesday—which was instituted at the 92nd Street Y. The group more than met its goal.
“This is something that keeps people active, especially when they are home alone,” explains program assistant Dafna Gorfinkle. “We have goals we are trying to hit, and we find new places to donate; it keeps the project fresh and exciting. It’s a wonderful social activity, and we’re happy we’re able to give back.”
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