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Close-knit seniors help foster students

February 13, 2014
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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In 2008, a group of residents at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Virginia, took the initiative and organized a special interest group focused on a favorite hobby—knitting. Not only do they get to enjoy one another’s company as the “Knit Wits,” they’ve turned their passion for knitting into a passion for giving. Erickson Living encourages residents to create groups and activities that fit their interests.

“Knit Wits” love to knit and keep their fingers busy. To give purpose and meaning to their activity, "Knit Wits" began a project suggested by Sue Waffle, the daughter of Ashby Ponds resident Bill Davis. Last year, Waffle volunteered to help her church with the Foster Care to Success (FC2S) Red Scarf Project, an organization that assists foster teens prepare for college or employment.

On Valentine’s Day, FC2S students receive care packages that include a red scarf. Over the years, many of these scarves have become treasured items. The ladies threw themselves into the project last summer and produced 30 scarves for the project. “It was a fun project for us, and it really took off,” says “Knit Wits” leader Cathy Williams.

Each knitter created two scarves in all different shades of red. Recently, volunteers gathered at the Foster Care to Success office in Virginia to assemble and ship the care packages. Nearly 2,000 Valentine’s Day care packages were shipped to foster students throughout the United States. An undertaking this large didn’t just happen. It took the efforts of “Knit Wits” and other clubs, churches and organizations to make this possible.

The students aren’t the only beneficiaries of the “Knit Wits” talents and large hearts. The club members sell their handmade items at the annual Ashby Ponds’ Holiday Bazaar and donates the proceeds to the community’s Benevolent Fund, which helps to support residents who have outlived their financial resources.

Items have also been donated to Hurricane Sandy victims and the Wounded Warriors Project. More than two dozen hand-knit sweaters were given to World Vision, a nonprofit organization for children.

“I was a kid when my mother taught me to knit,” says resident Lois MacKay. “I hadn’t knit for 20 years before I came to Ashby Ponds. I’ve found my niche here.”

As Valentine’s Day approaches, Waffle thanks the “Knit Wits” for sharing their time, talent and support for the Red Scarf Project. “[About] 2,000 college students will get these scarves and enjoy them for a lifetime.”