Scarves, and scarf-knitting and crocheting supplies, have
been graciously donated by people from:
Northbrook, IL; Santa Barbara, CA; Tampa Bay, FL;
Millegeville, GA ; Boston, MA; Deerfield, IL; New York, NY; Grand Rapids, MI;
Sacramento, CA; Chicago, IL; Gurnee, IL; Oreland, PA; Missouri; Barrington, IL;
Arlington Heights, IL; Del Ray Beach, FL; Decherd, TN; Maryland; Ft. Myers, FL;
Honolulu, Hawaii; Harvest, AL; Richmond, VA; Orland Park, IL; Grove City, OH;
Ann Arbor, MI; Durham, New Hampshire; Champaign, IL
Breakthrough Urban Ministries Inc. Men's Services - In Chicago's East Garfield Park, where disinvestment has left the neighborhood
devoid of opportunity and full of broken dreams, Breakthrough Urban Ministries
is restoring the broken networks of youth and families and empowering adults in
the community to achieve self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty.
NSO-Tumaini Center - The mission of the NSO Tumaini Center is to be an open door to those in need.
The NSO Tumaini Center assists the homeless in gaining the maximum services
available from substance abuse and mental health treatment, and other social
service agencies and network sources. NSO's NSO Tumaini Center provides
substance abuse prevention services, mental health referral services, education,
crisis intervention and referral services for individuals who are homeless or
• Ann Arbor, Michigan
... where next?!
A Special Note to The Sunshine Knitters from Florida who
consistently send boxes of scarves to Chicago, a group of young
ladies (in their 80s through 101!) who have found joy in knitting/donating –
thank you, thank you thank you! You are a very special group of crafters!
The Story ofSWAP
"My mom learned
to knit from her mom. She was always knitting like crazy, so one day in junior
high I asked her to teach me. Then I was knitting like crazy! We started making
scarves for family and friends as holiday gifts. After about six months of
keeping their necks warm, we realized that there were far more people out there
who really needed a hug around the neck - the homeless. We thought we should
knit some scarves for those who could use them in this cold Chicago weather. And
so it began.
decided they wanted to learn how to knit, too. One thing led to another, and
here we are - everyone's HOOKED!!!!! I now hold monthly S.W.A.P. meetings where
all are welcome to knit all night long. Sometimes we have as many as 50 people
at one time! Every time a scarf is finished, we roll it up and attach a tag, box
it up, and off it goes to a homeless shelter. Sometimes we'll go and knit at
another school or a nursing home. Sometimes we even cook and bring dinner to a
shelter in Evanston. Now with the web site, we receive yarn and scarves from
people far and wide - all working to help Scarves With A Purpose.
my grandmother never got to see S.W.A.P. materialize. I know that she somehow
knows, though, and is smiling from above.
particularly pleased if you'd like to join us in making a difference. To learn
more, follow a link on the left side of the page."
- Melanie Hebeisen
by Jodi Hebeisen
it's been a very interesting winter! To start, we had a record-breaking year
in donations: 2,422 scarves delivered to many places I will mention further
down in this post! The outpouring was mostly due to the fact that SWAP was
mentioned in the December 2013 issue of Woman's Day magazine! Not a day
has passed since November where we haven't received an email or a box of
scarves from crafters all across the United States wanting to help! (The
magazine comes out earlier than December!) So thank you to all who have
participated, especially with our Polar Vortex!
A commanding officer from the Naval Air Station in
California reached out to SWAP asking for 20 children's scarves for a
holiday party. Of course! Then probing further, they would be delighted to
receive 1200 for their entire squadron! We didn't feel we'd be able to fill
that order, but coincidentally, two days later, a United States athletic
organization (who wishes to remain anonymous) offered up an exact 1200-scarf
donation! What are the odds of
that? Although they weren't handmade – one of our main principles – we were
extremely happy to merge the two requests!
Also, merging with Make It Better magazine's Warming Hearts and
Hands efforts, SWAP donated 207 scarves to be distributed to area
shelters during the holidays. In their Make A Difference section, they requested warm clothing to be donated,
so we thought it would be great to match a scarf up with a coat/hat/mittens.
They were very grateful to receive the scarves! (Check out
www.makeitbetter.net for a great
Another exciting merger was with Sam of the Feed the Homless Program at North
Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois. Their mission is to prepare,
deliver and serve meals to 750
homeless and low-income individuals throughout the Chicago area. This
December, a scarf was presented in a gift bag to each person.
Lois, the Chairperson and Coordinator of the program,
said, "We presented
the scarves in holiday gift bags and the guests were so surprised and truly
elated to receive them. Many even put them on as they left and went out into
the cold winter night. The scarves were beautiful, made with loving care
and as you say, were 'a hug around the neck.'" All in all, 335
scarves were distributed by the Congregation between Fourth Presbyterian
Church, Debra's Place, and Marguard Center in Chicago. SWAP has made a
commitment to continue to provide scarves in the future to add to the warmth
of their meals, as "most people there were inadequately dressed for cold
An email from Marsha: "HI What a
wonderful idea. I would like to know how to send scarves to an elementary
school in inter city Columbus Ohio. My daughter teaches there and children
come to school with no coats or proper dress for winter. She just said the
day before I read about you in Women's Day, 'The kids in my room need neck
scarves, maybe I will go to Goodwill and get some.' If you do donate to
inter city schools how do we sign up? Thank You for what you are doing God
While we can't honor every request, it was still early enough in
the season to spare 60 scarves, which they were truly appreciative.
We also sent nearly 300 to two low-income schools in the Chicago
area. If you've heard anything about the weather here this winter, you know
we at least helped keep some necks warm!
The Ann Arbor branch donated 87 scarves to the Delonis Center in
Michigan. Quite a feat, considering their full-time student schedules!
They meet once a week at the university to de-stressed from their
studies. Seems to work well!
Thank you all for a great year.
Moving forward, there have been a lot of requests for patterns
and sizing. As far as patterns, we really like to leave it up to the
crafter, but I will post one suggestion by an incredible knitter, Marion.
Just follow the links.
Keep on knitting, please. AND STAY WARM!!
2012 was a very interesting year for Scarves with a
Purpose – For the first time ever, people have actually
found our website and REQUESTED that we SEND them scarves!
Hurricane Sandy affected so many on the East
Coast, but when they reached out to us, we were prepared to help – 418
scarves were mailed to Stephanie, a PTA mom from Staten Island who
explained how so many lost their homes. She was worried about all the
children. As soon as I told SWAP members about the situation, they
helped with the packaging, shipping, and costs of sending them scarves.
We also added some hats, coats and blankets for them, something we don't
typically do. After Stephanie distributed the donations, she sent
pictures and many emails of gratitude:
And here's a Facebook post from another
Hurricane Sandy victim whose family lost their entire home. She told
Stephanie, "Of all the things we received, the scarves were the best!"
(Do you see that she's wearing one?!)
Another request came out of Springfield, Illinois. They were looking
for 100 scarves for a homeless shelter in St. Louis! At this point, we
were out of scarves, but once again, our knitters from around the
country heard the call and quickly got 76 stitched up for us! Although
we missed the mark a little, they were very happy with what we were able
to provide on short notice. All in all, a very satisfying experience for
Also in 2012:
30 scarves were sent to Poland
a dozen were handed out on the streets in Chicago
60 sent to a low-income school in Chicago
Our Michigan branch donated 100 scarves in their area.
When you add it all up, that's a lot of scarves for one year! Thanks
to all our crafters and donators this year! We are truly blesssed.
Gearing up for 2013. we've already received close to 200 and it's
only mid-January. I feel like we may top our own record. Stay warm,
I'm soooo happy to report
that interest in Scarves With A
Purpose is still up – we receive emails almost every day
from knitters around the country. Knit on!!!
And this just in
from our Michigan branch: They just donated 90 scarves to "Camp Take
Notice." Thanks, Michigan! For more info about Camp Take Notice go to:
356 scarves went to Portage
Park School, Connections for the Homeless in Evanston, and Glenview Youth
Services in 2011.
The biggest surprise
was an email I received from a woman in California who put on an art
exhibit at the Roseville Downtown Library: "I was
considering doing a show of knitted works (scarves and blankets)," she wrote," and then
donating them to the Children's Receiving Home in Sacramento ... it would be
great to have participants from [SWAP]!" Well, I thought so, too, so I sent her 15 scarves, which she beautifully
dispayed in the library during her "Knit Necessities" show:
A Special Request to
start off the New Year: Donations of material
-- such as yarn and size 11 to 13 needles -- would really come in handy just about now!
Email for mailing information.
173 scarves were donated to
Portage Park Elementary School in Chicago in time for the holidays. The
children look forward to our donations every year!
On the Michigan front, 10 students from UMich
delivered 195 scarves to the NSO-Tumaini Center in Detroit, a homeless
shelter. The group still meets every week. For more info, visit their blog!
70 students from Glenbrook
North High School's club "Smiles and Snacks" hand-delivered 100 scarves on
the streets of Chicago and Breakthrough Urban Ministries Inc. Men's Services
in Chicago. The reaction from the president of the club:
"There were some interesting stories from some of the people. One family of four
told of how they wanted to try to get somewhere warmer like
California, somewhere where being homeless would be better. There
was also a man in his army fatigues who asked for a tan colored
scarf that would match his uniform he claimed to wear daily.
"Everyone was so grateful for the scarves, especially around the
holiday. One man thought we were only allowed to give one scarf, so
he asked for a pink one for his niece. When he found out he could
have two, I think I saw a tear in his eye.
"All in all, it was such a
successful day. I am very excited to come home from college next
year and see that this has been done again. Your scarves have given
a warm, Thanksgiving feeling to these people, and I couldn't thank
you enough for doing this."
ANOTHER TWO NEW S.W.A.P. BRANCHES HAVE BEEN FORMED!
One at the University of Michigan,
and another at the University
of Illinois. Yes, the girls are growing up and have started new clubs at
college! All scarves knitted will be donated locally.
We are still getting interested knitters from
around the country -- BIG donations from Virginia, Chicago, New York,
Georgia, and as always, Florida! Thanks, ever so much.
Under the heading of "Happy Birthday to YOU!" our
"oldest" knitter just turned 105 this year!
A NEW BRANCH OF S.W.A.P. HAS BEEN FORMED! A
group of knitters in New Hampshire has decided to hand out scarves to
the homeless on their streets this month. It has been reported that 55
scarves have been completed and ready to go.
65 scarves were donated to the PADS Crisis
Center in Libertyville, Illinois.
A group of retired ladies in Florida
who call themselves The Sunshine Knitters have sent about 65 to
date "to help keep our Northern friends warm
Roughly 50 Glenbrook North High School (Northbrook,
Illinois) students handed out 50 scarves to the homeless on the
streets of Chicago the day before Thanksgiving. It was the
first attempt of physically handing them out and proved to be very
Close to 500 scarves were received by knitters
across the country and from the Friday night meetings and donated to
Connections for the Homeless. Dinner was also cooked and served at Hilda's
15 knitters go to Norwood Crossing to knit
with the elderly.
76 more scarves are donated to Connections for the
I'm pleased to announce that the
scarves are continuing to roll in - men's scarves, women's scarves, wool
scarves, winter scarves, head scarves ... all sorts of shawls and wraps
and scarf-like knitting for the homeless and underserved. Another 200, in fact,
were recently added to the total - some from as far away as Alabama!
Thanks to everyone who's helping the cause.
In other news, I'll be teaching basic
and advanced knitting at the house, again this year. So, if you want to learn
how to knit, increase your knitting skills, or just enjoy some fun storytelling
and conversation, all are welcome to join us, in person, on the last Friday of
each month! (Email
Too, I'm now also teaching knitting at
St. Norbert's Church, here in
Northbrook, Illinois, on the first Tuesday of each month.
And, I just finished a class at
Glenbrook North High School for the HERO
(Home Economics Cooperative Education) class.
SWAP is alive and well. In fact, we've been receiving scarves
for the homeless via mail from some fabulous knitters in California, Florida, and throughout the
Chicagoland area - that's 100 more
scarves ready to be donated, courtesy of the winter's knitters! Thank you one
and all for knitting your Scarves with a Purpose!
Too, this summer we'll be doing more
soup kitchen work and helping out at the shelter.
Stay tuned, volunteers. And keep
It's too hot to knit in the summer!
Come back when the weather's cooler, yes?!
Jodi Hebeisen is invited to teach
students at Wood Oaks Junior High (Northbrook, District 27) and to talk about
SWAP received a donation of more than
200 skeins of yarn this month to knit and donate scarves.
SWAP expanded its services to include
cooking meals for the residents of
Connections for the Homeless in Evanston, Illinois. As an added
bonus, 142 knit scarves were delivered to them.
Connections for the Homeless receives more than 100 scarves from Scarves with a Purpose, benefiting
both Hilda's Place shelter residents and the organization's Entry Point
The Northbrook Star (a Pioneer
Press newspaper) prominently featured an article on SWAP.
The knitting club of Maple School (Northbrook, Illinois District 30) joined the SWAP movement. This
middle school added an option of knitting scarves to the list of approved
activities for their annual eighth-grade service project.
SWAP donates almost 130 scarves to A
Safe Place, a Chicago-area battered women's shelter and
PADS, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Waukegan, Illinois
that serves people throughout
Lake County, Illinois.
First SWAP-meet (knitting party)
held for aspiring knitters.
comes with a tag that reads:
S.W.A.P. Scarves With A Purpose
A group of people
making scarves to let you know someone out there cares about you. Wrap this around your neckand feel the hug and love! This scarf was
made especially for you by _____________.