It was May of 2012, and close to the end of my 33rd year of teaching. Along with the usual challenges, I found myself stepping up to care for several people in my family who were ill. Without my knowing it, the stress from doing this caused my blood pressure to escalate.
By the end of the week, I was in a hospital emergency room with stroke-like conditions. I learned my high anxiety had caused my blood pressure to spike. I knew things needed to change, so I spent the summer of 2012 finding ways to get healthier.
One of the first things I did was to learn how to knit.
Knitting quickly became one of my favorite activities. As an added benefit, I finally could make things by hand for the people I loved. What does one usually knit first? A scarf, of course! That year I must have knitted about 30 of them, and I happily gave them to all my family and friends in the area. I was amazed at what joy a handmade scarf could bring to people, so I even sent many to friends living in other states.
The Start of Spreading the Warmth
Spreading the Warmth’s beginning took root on an icy, 20-degree day in December of 2013. That morning, as I got out my knitted items, I realized I had knitted five extra scarves and had nobody to give them to. My husband and I were about ready to visit his mom in the hospital.
Something told me to take those extra scarves along with me.
On the way to the hospital and back, we found five very cold people: A young man shivering outside a bus shelter, a middle-aged nurse walking to her car in the hospital parking lot, a one-legged man waiting for a bus, a woman walking to her car carrying groceries, and a child who was walking home with her mother from the grocery store.
As I gave a handmade scarf to each of them, I said: “I made this for you.” Their responses were priceless. At that moment, the warm scarf was one of the greatest gifts they could receive.
I only told one friend about my scarf-giving fun that day. But she told her mom, who told the owner of the yarn shop she frequented.
The next time I entered the shop, the owner walked up to me and said, “I heard about what you did giving out those scarves. We have extra yarn we would like to donate, but if we do that, we need to donate it to a non-profit organization. Have you considered doing this again and creating a non-profit?”
I knew right then that I was called to a new mission: Starting an organization that would spread kindness and warmth to people throughout the Metroplex.
I spent the summer jumping through the many hoops of starting a non-profit. I assembled a passionate board of friends to join my efforts. Finally, in September of 2014, Spreading the Warmth held its first Knit Night with nine people meeting at my home.
Make a Handmade Scarf with Us
Now, eight years later, almost 7,000 handmade scarves have been individually given out throughout the metroplex, the United States, and the world! We have field coordinators in Colorado, Illinois, and New Jersey, and one great volunteer just started a chapter in Ohio.
Our team of volunteers spans eight decades and includes both genders. We meet the second Saturday of each month upstairs at Whole Foods Market at Preston/Forest between 6:30 and 8:30 PM.
If you have always wanted to learn to knit or crochet, or to simply be part of an organization that is adding warmth and kindness to the world, there is room for you to knit a handmade scarf, crochet, tag, bag, or give scarves out.
Come join us!
For more information, check out Spreading the Warmth’s Facebook page or our website at www.spreadingthewarmth.us.