Warming hearts: Students knit for the homeless

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Knit Wit volunteer Maddie Kaplan, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Sacred Heart School, uses a small hand loom to make a knit scarf for the homeless.

‘I think it’s really cool because you can do something that you like to do and something also that’s really
helpful for people in need.’
— Maddie Kaplan

Sunday Times Newspapers

DEARBORN – Local youth have embraced their inner nitwit to help the homeless keep warm this winter.

Knit Wits –comprised of students at Sacred Heart School in Dearborn– donate their time to make winter scarves for the homeless.

“We’re doing this all winter,” said Julie Wieleba-Milkie, director of religious education. “I’m calling (Knit Wits) our winter service project… I’m working on it during the week with the kids who are in the school here and then on some of the Saturdays each month with anyone.”

Wieleba-Milkie learned about Knit Wits, which is short for “knitting for others, witnessing for Jesus” at the National Catholic Youth Conference Nov. 17 to 20 in Indianapolis. The event, sponsored by the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, drew 23,000 U.S. teens and adult chaperones.

Some students at Sacred Heart School started knitting scarves for the homeless during a recent cold spell, when Principal Melissa Lambrecht told students they could stay inside during recess and work on the Knit Wit service project if they wished.

Robbie Grasinski, a 10-year-old fifth grader, is a first-time knitter, and said using the loom is pretty easy.

“It sounded like fun and I just like to make stuff,” Grasinski said.

He hasn’t set a specific goal for himself, and said he is just going to see how many scarves he can make.

He said it was important to make scarves for the homeless “because they’re cold out in the winter and you want them to be as warm as possible.”

Arwa Saleem, a 12-year-old seventh grader was curious about Knit Wits, so she decided to give it a try during a cold recess.

She has been working on her first scarf at home in her spare time while watching television or listening to music.

“The homeless get really cold and they need a lot of donations and a lot of people really can’t give it to them right now, so giving them the scarves really helps,” Saleem said. “I think it’s a really good cause.”

Her friend, 12-year-old seventh grader Maddie Kaplan, who joined Knit Wits with her, had knitted the traditional way with knitting needles with her grandmother, and finds winding yarn around the loom and pulling the loops over the pegs with a crochet hook much easier.

“I think it’s really cool because you can do something that you like to do and something also that’s really helpful for people in need,” Kaplan said. “It’s something good for them, even if it’s just making one small scarf. You’re keeping them warm no matter what.”

Yarn, craft looms, crochet hooks and discount coupons to local craft stores may be donated to Sacred Heart Parish, 22430 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, through a bin in the church vestibule, at the religious education office on the second floor of the Michigan Avenue school building, or left in the green mailbox outside the building.

For more information or to become a local Knit Wit, call Wieleba-Milkie at (313) 565-1020 or contact her by email via churchlady75@hotmail.com.