March 3, 2011 - 4:43pm
BY CLAIRE GOSCICKI
With temperatures beginning to drop in Ann Arbor, LSA sophomore Mel Hebeisen and the members of her organization — Scarves With A Purpose — are providing warmth to those in need.
The club, which was started last year, aims to provide knitted scarves to area homeless shelters and hospitals. Hebeisen said the scarves act as both wearable gifts and, more importantly, reminders that the recipient is cared for.
“We try to let people know they are part of our community by welcoming them with our scarves and making them feel loved,” Hebeisen said.
An avid knitter, Hebeisen said she began knitting for the cause in middle school at home in Evanston, Ill. with her mother. Upon coming to the University, she founded SWAP with support from her academic learning community, the Michigan Community Scholars Program.
The club has since grown and now has upwards of 100 members. Besides knitting with one another, members of the group also accept donations from anyone offering scarves or supplies.
In addition to knitting, Hebeisen said she and many members of the club are educating themselves about the devastating effects of poverty.
“Last year, we were really based on knitting and not much else, but now we’re trying to educate our group about homelessness and poverty,” she explained.
This semester, Hebeisen said the group has plans to partner with local nursing homes to knit and bond with residents while encouraging them to donate to the needy. She said most completed scarves are donated to the Delonis Center homeless shelter in downtown Ann Arbor, but the group occasionally donates to areas in Chicago and is looking for a shelter in Detroit as well.
Hebeisen added that most members don’t know how to knit upon joining but can pick it up quickly at one of the club’s weekly meetings.
“The meetings get really, really intense and it’s kind of stressful to teach so many people (to knit). But it’s fun … and it’s worth it,” she said.