0311_ek_knitathon Knit-a-Thon benefits local community organizations

Francesca Demming

Students, faculty and community members spent Friday knitting for the needy in a Knit-a-Thon at the Kent State University Library.

Despite the cold and windy weather, 84 people from various disciplines attended the 12-hour event. Volunteers made over 40 items, which were all donated to local organizations in the community.

Jay Kanapesk, a managerial marketing sophomore, said he attended the Knit-a-Thon to try something new and put in service hours at the same time.

“I haven’t knitted for over 10 years, but I just wanted to come to the Knit-a-Thon and learn,” Kanapesk said. “I’m in Phi Kappa Psi fraternity on campus and we’re a service based community. This is a way for me to put in some service hours. I’ve had an awesome time and I’ll definitely come back.”

Diane Baldridge, founder of Knitting for Those in Need, said she founded the organization to teach students a lifelong skill.

“Our organization is meant to be an empowering organization,” Baldridge said. “We don’t just make things. We give people a skill that they can have for the rest of their lives. We just ask that when they’re making things with us, that they donate what they make.”

Louise Ditchey, the academic program director of the Graduate Programs Office and adviser for Knitting for Those in Need, said the local community needed warm and comfortable items.

“The organization started five years ago and we usually have around 25 people at each meeting,” Ditchey said. “We only serve Portage County because we are limited in what we can cover. Unfortunately, the need is so great and we get requests from Summit and Cuyahoga County, but we just can’t keep up with all of it.”

Riley Weatherholt, a senior chemistry major, serves as treasurer for Knitting for Those in Need. Weatherholt said the members are at different levels of experience and have a variety of projects to work on.

“We’re working to make something now called twiddlemuffs,” Weatherholt said. “They’re for Alzheimer’s patients and are sensory activity sleeves that they can wear. It helps them be less vegetative and it gives them something to do with their hands.”

Twiddlemuffs include strings and buttons on knitted sleeves to keep people with Alzheimer’s disease engaged and active.

The organization also creates what they call “knitted knockers.” Courtney Wolfe, president of Knitting for Those in Need, said the knitted knockers substitute breast implants and benefit cancer patients.

“The knitted knockers are knitted prosthetics for women who have had a mastectomy from breast cancer,” Wolfe said. “They’re a really nice alternative because usually the stuff they get is really hard on their skin and isn’t comfortable.”

Knitting for Those in Need continually looks for students, staff and community members to volunteer and make more knitted items. It meets every Friday at 4 p.m. on the fourth floor of the University Library.

The organization also asks for donated supplies such as yarn, knitting needles and looms. To find more information about the organization or other ways to get involved, visit https://sites.google.com/view/learn-create-serve/home.

Francesca Demming is the social services reporter, contact her at [email protected].