by Susan Mikula Campbell
Comfort, warmth and love are being sent out into the world thanks to the talented fingers of a small group of women at Crestwood Commons senior housing in Wheatfield.
Beverley Gounard-Spry, 67, has been involved in knitting for charity, since she retired. When she and her husband moved from Youngstown into one of the new senior patio homes in Crestwood last year, she not only continued that involvement, but with the help of the Crestwood Commons activities director got others interested and formed Crafting for a Cause.
Today, Crafting for a Cause boasts about 20 members. They range in age from their 60s to their 90s, and their contributions may be simple or skilled as they turn out a rainbow of blankets, quilt squares shawls, and baby items that are given away to charitable groups.
"We have a lot of fun," said Gounard-Spry, who was surprised to find out how talented and active her group members are. "It's a good way to get to know each other."
The oldest member is Mary Catania, 95. She's currently crocheting her 16th peace prayer shawl in five months - that's despite a short hiatus due to a heart attack and hospital stay.
"She's back at it," Gounard-Spry confirmed.
Four of Catania's shawls have been sent to St. John Episcopal Church in Youngstown for people who are ill or bereaved. Nine of her shawls were sent to Women 4 Women Knitting 4 Peace in July. That group sends the shawls to women living in areas of conflict around the world.
In recent months, members of Crafting for a Cause have also sent quilts, tie blankets and baby crib blankets to Summit Life Outreach Center, made baby hats for Save the Children, and crafted quilt squares for blankets to be given to Roswell Park cancer patients and for a Lewiston Recreation Department project to make blankets for teens at Community Missions.
"I love to do it, honey," said Catania of all the crocheting she's done for Crafting for a Cause. "I know this is going for a good purpose."
Like many of the members, Catania learned her skill at her mother's knee. "I was 8 years old. She taught me how to make a chain."
"I think I've done it forever," agreed 85-year-old Betty Sauer, one of the group's talented knitters.
"She knits when she plays bingo. Wherever she is, she knits," teased fellow member Zilcie Brooks.
The 91-year-old Brooks actually had stopped her own crocheting years ago, resurrecting the skill when she joined Crafting for a Cause.
"I couldn't give away any more afghans, so I gave it up," she said.Crafting for a Cause can always use new materials, such as soft, colorful yarns, Gounard-Spry said. Anyone interested in donating materials can drop them off at the main desk in the Crestwood apartment building or call her at 216-4295.