Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Volunteers Carry on Tradition of Knitting, Sewing and Crocheting for a Good Cause

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Knitting, sewing and crocheting have been tools American Red Cross volunteers have been using since World War II to give back. For active soldiers, Red Cross volunteers would knit wool socks to help prevent trench foot and to give the soldiers a sense of comfort and love from home. 

The tradition has carried on now for more than 80 years and is still going strong in the Dallas Area Chapter. Every Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., volunteers come to the chapter and dedicate their time to produce over 40 individual items. The items made include: layettes for newborns and still-borns, baby caps and booties, blankets, slippers, wheel chair caddies, bibs, chemotherapy caps, cooling neck wraps for soldiers and more. 

Charlotte, a Red Cross volunteer for more than 30 years,
 with one of her specialty items, a "Textured Worm"
 used as a comfort item for children in the hospital
A "Special Layette" which will go to Parkland Hospitals
for still-born babies

Around 36 volunteers help with this initiative, with an average of five volunteers in the production room every Tuesday, and the rest working remotely from all around North Texas, from the Panhandle to the far east. The items made go to Parkland Hospital, Children's Medical Center, Veteran's Administration Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House, Camp Maxey Canteen, USO, Medical City Dallas and St. Vincent DePaul Society. 

The production room, now named "Albina's Production Room" is named after the team's previous volunteer leader, Albina Young. Albina and her husband Bob were passionate and dedicated volunteers to the Red Cross, volunteering for almost 50 years. Albina and her husband were over 90-years-old when they stopped volunteering due to injuries in a car accident. 

When Albina retired from team leader, Marcia Bauer took over the role. After Marcia moved back to the Dallas area, and her children were grown, she began looking for volunteer opportunities. She recalls her husband recommending the Red Cross and her reacting with "Well yeah, I know, I'm aware of the Red Cross...," but then her husband said, "But did you know you could sew at the Red Cross?" 

"Realizing I could actually use my talent to help the Red Cross is what got me to get involved," said Marcia. 

Marcia has been asked to speak at several volunteer recognition events to share her Red Cross experience. At one event, Marcia mentioned that she needed to learn how to knit, and the next Tuesday she walked into the production room to find a basket with knitting materials and instructional books from the Red Cross. 

When asking Marcia why she volunteers, she stated, "They need me, and I enjoy being here, I enjoy the people, and I get to do what I like, which is sewing and knitting." Another volunteer, Julie Muse, jokingly chimed in, "and talking." 

From left to right: Marcia Bauer, Charlotte Kleinfelder and Julie Muse

"The one thing I always point out is that we deal in comfort," said Marcia. "But the one time we deal in disaster is providing layettes for the still-born babies, because that is a gigantic disaster. But just thinking about all of the things we do, all of them provides some form of comfort."

Julie Muse, a Red Cross volunteer working with a handmade piece
The day we visited the production room three ladies were sewing, knitting and crocheting: Marcia who has been volunteering for more than 15 years, Charlotte who has been volunteering for more than 30 years and Julie who has been volunteering at the Red Cross for two years. 

The production room volunteers have been recognized at many events, and the American Red Cross Dallas Area Chapter is so glad to have them! If you'd like to volunteer in the production room or are interested in other Red Cross volunteer opportunities, visit RedCross.org


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