Knitting group helps the homeless

By Christine L. Mobley

Legal News

Hoping to wrap those in need in warmth and love, a small group of knitters from a local law firm have come up with a big donation.

A dozen attorneys and staff members from the Kemp Klein Law Firm began a weekly knitting circle a few months ago in order to help the homeless through PBJ (Peanut Butter and Jelly) Outreach.

Marcia A. Russell, a receptionist at Kemp Klein and a knitter, learned of PBJ Outreach through her friends, Matt and Anne Greenough, who are involved with the organization, and decided to bring the idea to work.

According to Russell, after approaching a couple of people the idea caught on like wildfire and soon the hats and scarves began to accumulate -- gloves, however, were mainly purchased from Target since no one dared to attempt making the intricate pieces.

"The response has been overwhelming," Russell said. "It's a great feeling (helping those in need)."

And not all of those who volunteered to help started with knowledge of the needles.

"I learned to knit from these ladies," Elizabeth Hicks, paralegal and new knitter, said. "I think it's something I'm going to keep doing. We've built a little community here within the firm community, which is strong."

Meeting during their lunch hours once a week as a group and then taking their various projects home, these women not only donated their time and skill but also the materials to donate to PBJ Outreach.

More than 70 scarves, hats and gloves from the Kemp Klein Knitters were distributed over Thanksgiving weekend.

Every Saturday morning at the corner of Martin Luther King and 3rd, volunteers from PBJ Outreach provide food, clothing, and basic social services to homeless people as well as those who are below the poverty level, living in the depressed and impoverished areas of the Detroit area, including the Cass Corridor section of inner city Detroit.

"When you are homeless or you're down on your luck a handmade good versus something store bought is premium," according to Matt Greenough, who has worked in downtown Detroit helping the homeless since 1989. "I'm overwhelmed, this is a lot of great stuff."

Those in the knitting group hope to continue meeting and creating items that will be useful during the cold winter months, Russell noted saying that annual donations to PBJ Outreach is being strongly considered by the volunteers.

"It's the group concept of doing something larger than yourself," Diane Vigliotti, knitter and administrative assistant, said. "I can't do anything about the homeless on a one-on-one basis but to do something for them - it has brought tears to my eyes to see these women and their skill. To do this for people who will think this is precious is very, very precious to me...I think this is a very worthwhile thing to do."

Published: Fri, Dec 11, 2009

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