Township of Ela. the group tries to “keep the flame alive” of knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting for charity

In front of the television. In the waiting rooms. In airplanes.

A group of Lake County women have spent countless hours knitting, crocheting and, more recently, sewing and quilting to make thousands of handmade items: hats, scarves, blankets, quilts, mittens , washcloths, headbands, toe warmers and even stuffed animals. toys – to donate to nonprofits and community organizations.

The Ela Township Charity Knit Crochet Quilt Group has been meeting weekly for 16 years, with the added benefit of forming friendships along the way, its members said.

“It’s just a wonderful group of very generous women. Extremely generous women,” said Lake Zurich member Barb Swichtenberg.

“You’re doing something for someone else,” said Deer Park member Lia Douglas. “You bring a little joy and comfort to someone else.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has mostly met remotely on Zoom, with the exception of a few meetings — outdoors or indoors with masks — last summer. Despite being unable to see each other face to face, the women last year made more than 1,650 items for students, clients of domestic violence shelters, oncology patients and others.

Beneficiaries say the group provides excellent service to the community.

“It’s a huge, huge contribution for us to be able to provide our customers with what they need,” said Demaris Lorta, director of development for A safe place, a Lake County nonprofit that provides services to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. The agency received 90 hats from the group last year.


The craftsmanship is evident in each of the pieces donated, said Jessica Ceisel, community engagement coordinator for United Way of Lake County, who secured 69 sets of hats and scarves that were distributed to patrons of the non-profit organisation. Family-oriented Highland Park.

“I met a few ladies,” Ceisel said. “They’re so kind and passionate, and it was so nice to see how much they really care.”

The group was started in 2006 by Susan Fackler, who retired last year as director of community family services for Ela Township. The only remaining original member just moved to Georgia.

The group first met in the basement of the Foglia YMCA, followed by about a decade at the community center in Ela Township. Their current home is the Ela Township Building. All are in Lake Zurich.

Douglas said she learned to knit from her grandmother and joined the group in 2018, after her retirement.

“It has a calming effect,” she said of the knit. “It’s something you see you doing and you have a sense of accomplishment. And you have a way of expressing your artistic needs, because you’re combining colors and shapes.”

Swichtenberg, too, enjoys the band as a way to give back during her retirement years. Sewing suits her best because she has tendonitis, she says.

One of his favorite activities is donating to The Lake County Refugewhich helps homeless women lead independent lives, and the Lake County Women’s Residential Services program, each of which received blankets last year.

“It’s something very special,” she said.

A long-time beneficiary is Joanie’s closet, a committee of the District 95 Education Foundation that provides school supplies and winter equipment to underprivileged students and families in the Zurich Lake School District. The group’s donation last year was 50 youth hats and 150 adult hats.

“This is truly a phenomenal experience for the people of our district because it’s not just about store-bought hats,” said committee chair Ann Marie McConnell. “They give us beautiful things. I would like to know how to knit, seeing what they do.”

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital received 150 blankets and 77 toe warmers, as well as 17 hats and 13 scarves for the hospital’s radiation oncology group. The items are wanted, said radiation oncology nurse specialist Karen Sticha.

“The fact that there are people who care enough to give these gifts – something so kind, personal and beautiful – means so much to our patients while they undergo treatment,” she said. declared. “There is a lot of love and intention behind every piece we receive.”

Before the pandemic, up to 20 women attended group meetings, but that number has dropped to six or seven, Douglas said.

Some members aren’t comfortable with technology or don’t like virtual interactions, and others have left the state. The group stays in touch via weekly emails so everyone can work on needed items at home and drop them off at the township.

Still, “we would love to have new members,” Douglas said. “We are always looking for new members.”

Swichtenberg agreed.

“The group is much smaller during COVID, but the need is so much greater,” she said. “We try so hard to keep the flame alive. I don’t want this band to die out.”

Anyone interested can email [email protected] or call Sara Marx at (847) 540-8380.

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