Warming Hands, Warming Hearts

For more than 10 years, Greater St. Cloud Area RSVP volunteers have been using their yarn hobbies to ensure that the Minnesota winter weather won’t harm those who have no warm hats, mittens and scarves to fend off the cold. The RSVP Warm Fuzzies Project uses the knitting and crocheting talents of volunteers to make these necessary winter items for distribution in the community to those who are without these essentials.
Year ‘round volunteers create the items. In the autumn the offer goes out to local education and human service organizations to request a number of items to be given to their students/clients in need. Generally organizations would be able to use even more than are available. In the fall of 2014, a fairly typical year, nearly 1,200 items were distributed to 27 sites: 822 hats, 266 sets of mittens, 107 scarves. Most of the locations work with children, but others include shelters, food shelves and crisis centers.
RSVP volunteer Sr. Patrice Reed takes charge of the project each year when it is time to sort the items, offer them to agency partners, and prepare the requests for distribution. After the latest distribution she remarked, “I see the need is great in the community. Organizations are eager call me back and request to put the items to good use. Everyone is impressed at the number of items the volunteers make and that they are so generous.” In 2014, 16 RSVP volunteers collectively invested 4,726 creation hours into the project. Many volunteers use their own yarn or have friends and relatives that know their mission and bring yarn to them. In addition, RSVP has a yarn drives hoping to collect as much yarn as possible. In fact, the office of Braunreiter Dental has two Warm Fuzzies RSVP volunteers as patients and heard that more yarn was needed. They ran their own yarn drive for RSVP and delivered two large bags full, even as they continued to collect! There has never been more yarn than can be used.
Sr. Patrice shared another insight about the project. “Each volunteer puts a different personality into their work. The variety of the pieces can match the personalities of the recipients. The most fashionable adult items are distributed to places such as the local women’s shelter. At a most needed time, it can be a real self-esteem booster for a client to have a new item that she feels good about wearing.”

-Charlotte Strei