Close-knit community: Middle schoolers use knitting abilities to make scarves for needy

Emma Lerch knits a scarf for the North Whidbey Help House at a volunteer knitting group after school at North Whidbey Middle School. - Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times
Emma Lerch knits a scarf for the North Whidbey Help House at a volunteer knitting group after school at North Whidbey Middle School.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson / Whidbey News-Times

The clacking of knitting needles is a steady background beat to the chatting and laughter of about 20 North Whidbey Middle School students each Wednesday afternoon. Knitting needles worked yarn in every color of the rainbow and slowly, scarves began to form at a recent Wednesday afternoon meeting of the unofficial knitting club. In January, the students will donate their hard work to the North Whidbey Help House.

Last year, teacher Mary Ann Duhrkopf taught her Home Economics class how to knit and they made scarves for the Help House, among other projects that benefited the community. She had leftover yarn that was donated by various families for that project so Duhrkopf joined forces with teacher Shaunna Holcomb to create an after school knitting club. Students have been hard at work since the week before Thanksgiving.

“I think it’s good for the kids to help people,” Duhrkopf said.

Last year, the Help House was “really thankful” to receive scarves made by students, Duhrkopf said. Her students also sewed quilts for Wounded Warriors and held a canned food drive last year.

Projects like these let kids know that people need various kinds of help and that the kids can offer their talents to the community in helpful ways, Duhrkopf said.

Giving back

Students sat in groups around the classroom, giggling and chatting while they worked.

“We’re trying to do something kind,” eighth-grade student Lauryn Boelke said, continuing to knit as she spoke.

“I love doing this right now at Christmas. I like the feeling of giving to people even though I don’t know them,” said student Lindsay Gross.

“I like giving,” Hollie Dunn agreed.

“At least now we can give them a little warmth, comfort,” said eighth-grade student Emma Lerch of the people who will receive the scarves.

The four girls learned how to knit before joining the club, thanks to help from teachers, grandmothers or friends from church. As community members learn of the students’ decision to use their talents to give back to the community, Boelke said she wants people to realize, “Everybody’s not just greedy. There are people out there willing to help in times of need.”

“The holiday season isn’t just about receiving, it’s about giving,” Lerch added.

It isn’t very difficult to make a scarf, Gross said, but giving it as a gift can mean a lot.

“The community can know that to make a change is very important to us,” Gross added.

Duhrkopf and Holcomb taught student Angel Froelke to knit and she was hard at work forming a ball of shiny green yarn into a warm scarf. She said she wants the community to know “that knitting is awesome and to help the Help House.”

“It’s like a gift from us for Christmas,” added student Valerie Wylie.


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