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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Special Scarves for Give A Kid A Coat

My grandmother taught me how to crochet, but it never really stuck.  Periodically I pull my crochet hook and some yarn out and attempt to make a dishcloth, which usually takes me forever, makes my hands ache something fierce, and turns out lopsided.  So I get really excited when I have the chance to talk to someone that has a gift that I do not but really wish I did, and one that I really consider to be a dying art.
Recently, I had the privilege of talking to Emily Vail – a person that uses her gift to make gifts from the heart for others.  In 2008, Emily showed up at our A Cleaner World on Lawndale Avenue with 50 scarves that she’d crocheted over the course of the year; she wanted to donate them to Give A Kid A Coat.  The next year she came back, and this time she’d crocheted over 100 scarves during the course of the year.  And each year she comes back, having crocheted between 100-150 scarves, always wanting to donate them to Give A Kid A Coat.  This year is no exception – here she is dropping off over 150 scarves just a few days ago.
What made her start this little ministry?  “I don’t really think of it as a ministry,” she humbly replied.  “It seemed like the right thing to do.  I figured if there was a need for coats, then there was a need for neck warmth too.  This is just my way to contribute.”  So many folks that make contributions like this do it out of love, with a great deal of thought, and without any fanfare, and Emily totally fits that description.  To give you an idea of what I mean, Emily goes out of her way to choose a special type of yarn – one that has a softer feel, spending about $260 per year.  She does these in her spare time – after work or when she doesn’t have family obligations – and can crochet one in several hours.  (Which I find to be just amazing.)  Here’s the big thing – Emily has arthritis in her hands, so when her arthritis isn’t bothering her, crocheting helps keep her hands limber.  But when it is bothering her, crocheting a scarf hurts like the devil, and the thing that keeps her going is thinking about who might wear that particular scarf and how it might impact that person.

If Emily could have one wish as to what would come of this, it is that others with similar gifts would also use them in the same way.  “I could easily see church groups or youth groups that need a service project take this on,” Emily said.  “It would be so easy, and I can see it being successful.”  For the moment, Emily’s portion of this service project is already a success.  “We are always so thrilled to get the scarves each year,” said Carole Whisnant, Volunteer Coordinator for The Salvation Army in Greensboro.  “I have for so many years wanted to find out who she is and send her a thank you note but haven't been able to.  I have the scarves available at our warehouse during Give A Kid A Coat distribution for those who may need one.  If there are scarves left after distribution, they come to our Center of Hope Shelter and are distributed to kids and adults.  They are always so excited to receive them.”  Emily will be pleased to hear that.

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