Volunteers Knit 15,000 Blankets for Hospitalized Children

By Sara Schreibman, Yours Truly Needlepoint Volunteer

Lynn Edelstein received all-too-familiar phone calls last week from area children’s hospitals. They needed more than 150 blankets for their patients, and Lynn and Yours Truly Needlepoint are the source for these knitted and crocheted blankets. Lynn called all her contacts and was almost able to fill the order. To date, the many volunteers from around the U.S. and the world have knitted and crocheted more than 15,000 blankets for children at the Levine Children’s Hospital, Hemby Children’s Hospital, and Shriner’s Children’s Hospital (Greenville, SC), and the calls come almost every week for more. With such demand, Lynn and Yours Truly Needlepoint still need more knitters to help perform this mitzvah.

In the early 1970s, the Hebrew Academy needed money for scholarships, and Lynn’s husband, Sam (z’l), asked Lynn what they could do to raise money. Yours Truly Needlepoint was born with the primary purpose of giving all proceeds to the school. This “in-home” shop, with wonderful yarns and needlepoint canvases, has been open at Lynn’s home every Thursday from September through May ever since.

Yours Truly Needlepoint supported scholarship needs until the Hebrew Academy closed. Since then, all proceeds have been given to local Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofits in our community. The Sam Lerner Cultural Arts Center at Shalom Park, named in memory of Lynn’s husband, was one of the biggest projects YTN has supported.

Thirteen years ago, just before the Levine Children’s Hospital opened, Lynn’s daughter, Julie Lerner Levine, wanted Lynn to see the hospital. Lynn went with her grandchildren for the tour and visited every floor of the new facility. As she was leaving, Lynn said she had two wishes, namely, to never return to the hospital and to do something for every child who had to be there.

As Lynn told her friends and customers about this wish, volunteers began sending blankets. Friends in Myrtle Beach have knitted more than 1,000 blankets; several Charlotte women have knitted or crocheted more than 600 blankets each. One knitter, Mabel Condor, who is blind, has knitted more than 100 blankets. As the wonderful volunteers tell their friends, more blankets arrive.

Letters and notes of gratitude arrive frequently, saying, “Thank you so much for the beautiful blanket that was given to my daughter at Levine Children’s Hospital. It means so much to know that others are thinking of us during this time,” and “The patients and families that receive these blankets are astounded that someone put so much time and compassion into a gift just for them.” One mother wrote, “Thank you so incredibly much for the beautiful knitted blanket for Eleanor! It is clear that so much love was knitted into each stitch, and it is a blanket we know she will treasure,” and the mother of a 4-month-old wrote, “Our son just had heart surgery last week. One of the nurses covered him with your healing blanket while he slept. This brought comfort to us all. Thank you for sharing your gift with our family.”

More than 20 years ago, one of Lynn’s friends, an oncologist’s wife, told her that cancer patients getting chemotherapy treatments need hats. Lynn spread the word, and volunteers began making hats too. Today more than 10,000 “chemo hats” have been delivered to infusion centers around Charlotte. As one recipient put it, “I had ordered and returned six wigs and lids and resorted to a lycra beenie. Now I’m a Yours Truly Needlepoint model. A special thank-you to all of you who brought me, in particular, such joy.”

Years ago Lynn heard Dennis Prager say, “Don’t give ’til it hurts, give ’til it feels good,” and this has been her motto. Lynn and Judy Marco, Lynn’s invaluable partner in YTN for the past 14 years, give their time to knit at the Levine Jewish Community Center (LJCC) on Wednesday mornings and open Yours Truly Needlepoint every Thursday in Lynn’s home.

If you knit or crochet, Lynn and Judy could use your help. Visit Lynn and Judy on Wednesdays from 8 to 11 a.m. in the LJCC lobby or on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lynn’s home, 3802 Columbine Circle, or give Lynn a call at (704) 366- 6765. Yours Truly Needlepoint has a wonderful selection of yarns and could use your help fulfilling the needs for children who are hospitalized and cancer patients who rely on blankets and chemo hats to keep them warm.

Feature Photo: Lynn Edelstein and Judy Marco, co-organizers of Chai Hopes

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