Brookline Knitters Kept Busy with Drive to Keep Veterans Warm this Winter

Volunteers enlist business community's help in celebrating Veteran's Day with 'Knitting for Veterans.'

Drives for canned foods and coats are most active during the winter months, but Brookline Keeps Smiling is getting a head start.

This fall, the organization will host Knitting for Veterans, an endeavor that calls for more consideration than an ordinary drop-off and collection drive.

 "[It's] just another way to give back that does not involve dollars donated or food, but creativity," said Elaine Joseph, co-founder of Brookline Keeps Smiling.

The drive requests that members of the Brookline community hand-knit scarves, blankets or sweaters for veterans this fall. They are collecting items up until Veteran's Day on November 15.

Brookline Keeps Smiling hosts holiday-related projects throughout the year, but Knitting for Veterans is special to the organization. As the United States withdraws its troops from Iraq, they expect the number of veterans in need will increase this winter.

"I hope we will repeat the effort next year because more troops will be coming home," said Susan Howards, co-founder of Brookline Keeps Smiling.

Joseph and Howards started the organization last year after a conversation at The Pita Pit resulted in their first project, a local toy drive. Since then, the group has hosted several more holiday-related projects.

Veteran's Day is more than two months away, but the pair have already collected about 40 items in an overflowing box at the Bank of Canton on Harvard Street. Howards said Brookline business have been quick to accept donations on behalf of their drive.

"I take yoga at Inner Space and we have a box there," Howards said. "Brookline is extremely generous… [The town] is known for reaching out to those who may have a need."

Other drop-off centers include The Pita Pit, Boston School of Boabom, and the Brookline Public Health Department.

A Good Yarn is additionally hosting an ongoing project where knitters can come in and work on an item for the drive.

"We've been donating yarn and knitted items but we also have ongoing projects in the store," said Beverly Cheney, owner of A Good Yarn. "Even if they only spend a few minutes on it, they can feel like they've contributed."

Paula Roberts, an employee at A Good Yarn, set up a basket with three projects for visitors to work on.

"Hand crafted gifts are so personal and they're a great way to thank those who have selflessly served our country," Roberts said.

Knitting for Veterans draws a niche crowd unlike traditional drives. Donors spend weeks laboring over one-of-a-kind garments.

"They knit all the time, and this is what they love doing," Howards said. "[The donors] are very passionate and dedicated, and they love to share their work."

Brookline Keeps Smiling will host a reception at the conclusion of the drive on November 15.

"I hope that the people who receive our donations wear them with great joy," Howards said. "I hope we reach as many people as possible, and they know that know we care about them." 


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