Pilgrim Cleaners partners with Tonka church to donate 400 hats, scarves
Oak Knoll and Friends knitting group will donate 300 hats and 100 scarves this year to the annual Coats for Kids drive by Pilgrim Dry Cleaners.
Mary Gunness, who coordinates the knitting group and donations, said the handmade winterwear items were crafted by a core group of about 10 dedicated participants.
The group started in 2006, Gunness said, when members of Oak Knoll Lutheran Church noticed there was a surplus of yarn donated by the community.
Some of the yarn was used to tie quilts and blankets, but Gunness and others began wondering if they might put the extra to good use.
“We brought it up over coffee one day. Then we just doled out knitting needles and yarn and people started making hats,” Gunness said.
Every year since, the group has donated the fruits of their labor to Pilgrim Dry Cleaners.
Gunness said it takes about 6-8 hours to complete a single hat or scarf, and the knitters are hard at work year-round to produce several hundred items each year.
This year, one woman alone completed a total of 91 hats, an outstanding contribution, Gunness said. All of the items eventually make their way into the hands of families in need.
“There’s such a need. Coats are great, but this is Minnesota — you need a hat to keep warm,” Gunness said. “And because we’re using this yarn, it’s not going in the Dumpster.”
The Coats for Kids Drive has been an annual event for Pilgrim Dry Cleaners since 1986, providing thousands of cold-weather clothing items to children in the community who might otherwise be unable to afford them.
“It’s amazing. People are so appreciative,” said Judy Sprague of Pilgrim Dry Cleaners. “Until you work with something like this, you don’t realize how many people are in need. Warm clothes are something we really take for granted, even in Minnesota.”
The items donated by Oak Knoll and Friends will be distributing through the Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization Sharing and Caring Hands, which helps more than 20,000 families throughout the metro area each month with food, housing, transportation and more needs, in addition to warm clothing.
Gunness said Oak Knoll and Friends are still gladly accepting donations of yarn as well as new members to the knitting crew, and will continue doing their part to keep the community warm, one lovingly crafted knit cap at a time.
“We plan to keep doing it as long as we have yarn, and we never run out,” she said. “We’ve already started on next year’s.”
To donate yarn or get involved with Oak Knoll and Friends knitting group, contact Gunness at 763-593-3862.
To learn more about the Coats for Kids Drive, visit pilgrimdrycleaners.com/community/coatsforkids/
Contact Gabby Landsverk at [email protected]