LAUGHLIN — The seniors at Laughlin’s Spirit Mountain Activity Center and the Loving Hearts and Hands Crochet/Knitting Group give to their community and others as well.
The groups’ coordinator, Kathleen Whitehead, explains it as such:
The seniors of the knitting and quilting groups which meet on Tuesdays and started out simply for the love of knitting, quilting and crafts, but over time they have increasingly found themselves being pressed into service at the same time. The Spirit Mountain Recreation/Senior Center Crochet/Knit/Quilt/Crafts group started about eight to 10 years ago. It meets every Tuesday from 9 to 11 a.m. Members are from all over the Tri-state and not just Laughlin.
“Over the years, it has become more of a crocheting/knitting group with a few quilters and needle workers. Depending on the time of year, the group is between 15 to 25 ladies who come each week. It is a group where people work on different projects but also our charity items. It is a great social time for the ladies but also helps many in our community,” Whitehead said. “Even though this group isn’t mainly geared toward doing charity projects, most times everyone at one time or another works on charity projects. As almost everyone there says, you run out of things to make for family and rarely do we make anything for ourselves, so it just feels good to help others and the need is great in our communities.
Whitehead said she usually presents some need to the group and usually within a couple of weeks, she has more than enough items. Different members who hear of a need in the community or an idea of how the group can help others present it and rarely is there a “no” answer.
“We just make it work,” Whitehead said.
As example, the rec center wanted to give all the children in Searchlight a hat for Christmas. The center director asked for 60 if possible.
“Within two weeks he had more than enough,” Whitehead said. “Over the last two years, we support and still support a pediatric cancer foundation in California who asked for 170 hats to give out at their Christmas party. Within a month, the hats were in the mail and on their way. We are halfway to that goal this year, as well as a special crocheted ball we make for each child. We make afghans, hats, mitts, etc., for the Bullhead City Domestic Violence Safehouse, the Veterans Resource Center and Colorado River Food/Clothing Bank.
“We support the Legacy and Sunridge Village with different items for the different populations there. We helped with the Laughlin Shop with a Cop last year with stockings and ‘snowballs’ for each child and are doing so again this year.”
Whitehead said that anyone, man or woman, is welcome to join the group; from someone who has no idea what the difference is between a crochet hook or knitting needles to experts.
“Those who have more experience are more than happy to teach anyone who wants to learn this craft we are so excited about and to help others, which feels so good,” Whitehead said. “If someone wants to come learn or visiting, we always have extra yarn and hooks or needles, so no excuse not to just jump right in. We get almost all our yarn from donations and donated yarn has to be used for charity projects and not personal stuff. We are always looking for more donations of yarn or supplies which can be dropped off at the senior center during the times we meet.”
You can also call Whitehead at 702-357-9372 for more information about donations or the group.
Then there is the Loving Hearts and Hands Crochet/Knitting Group.
“I had always wanted to start a prayer shawl group after hearing about it through different channels,” Whitehead said. “The idea of a prayer shawl is it is given to someone who is in need of comfort and hugs, going through bad times from a death of a loved one to personal things happening in their lives. The person who makes the shawl is saying prayers and putting loving thoughts while working on it to whoever receives it.
“Our group has a token shawl which is called the Angel Wings shawl because it looks like angel wings and it surrounds you with a big hug. It is always blessed by Father Charlie (Urnick) or a deacon before it is given to however needs it. There usually isn’t a particular person in mind when being made. I presented the idea to Father Charlie at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Laughlin and he said go for it. We started in the kitchen with only three or four of us, outgrew the kitchen, went to the vestibule and then into the actual church. Before long, we outgrew the church with so many ladies who wanted to be part of this ministry. From there, we moved to the American Legion Post 60 for a few years and we now meet at the Laughlin Community Church.
What started out as just making Prayer Shawls has grown into a lot more.
“We really had more than enough shawls to give out and they wanted to do something else to help the community,” Whitehead said. “Cheryl (DeBatt) from Westcare came and talked to us about the need at the shelter and we asked what we could do. That lead to making a lot of 7-inch by 7-inch squares to make afghans for each resident to take with them when they leave. Each afghan is made with 63 squares.
“Over the past couple years, the group has made at least 75 or more twin-size afghans as well as hats, fingerless gloves, slippers, kitchen items and more for the shelter. We then added the Colorado River Food and Clothing Bank to help so many of the homeless and financially challenged with hats, mitts, slippers and scarves.
“That was just the beginning. We now make items for the WARMC nursery from blankets to hats, mitts, booties and angel blankets. We support the Legacy and Sunridge Village with scarves, hats, rehab balls, twiddle mitts and wristlets. We also support the Veteran’s Resource Center with afghans, hats, scarves, mitts. These are just some of the different organizations we help but there are others such as the Laughlin Shop with a Cop, making hats for local kids, and whoever asks.
“The one we are most excited happened a couple of years ago when a website called Delaware Headhuggers requested hats for a pediatric cancer foundation in Santa Clarita, California, who each year has a Christmas party for all the pediatric cancer patients within a 250-mile radius of the center. They asked for 170 hats. The first year we helped with 60 hats, last year we made the whole 170 requested hats and this year we are more than halfway there to complete the 170 hats as well as a new item we are making which we call a snowball but official name is a stress ball. It is a ball made from yarn the kids can play with or hold onto when doing treatments. Last year, one of our members made over 75 stockings for the Laughlin Shop with the Cop so every kid had their very own Christmas stocking and they also each received a snowball. She working on this again and have them almost all completed.
“We have been very blessed due to all the items are made from donated yarn. Rarely have we had to buy yarn out of personal funds. Just when it seems we are down to scraps, someone will call or bring in bags of yarn and hooks and needles. At times we have had an overabundance of yarn and it doesn’t go to waste. I will take if over to the Needles Elks Club, who makes items for the Barstow Veteran’s Home.
“We are always looking for new members.... It is a very laid back, friendly group who just get a lot of joy giving to others in the community and farther afield. We meet the second and fourth Thursday of each month except the last Thursday in November, which is usually Thanksgiving, and the month of December to give everyone a break and enjoy the holidays. We meet from 10 to noon at the Laughlin Community Church, which has been so gracious to us to let us use their facility. My hope is in time we will come full circle, and when St. John’s has their new community center completed in the future, we will be back where we began.”
For more information on this group or to donate yarn, call Whitehead at 702-357-9372.