Chemotherapy patients know all too well how cold they can feel while undergoing treatment. To help them, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sew hats.
Dawn Larsen, a crocheter, understands what patients are going through firsthand. She faced down endometrial carcenoma, a type of cancer, and now makes hats for others. She recalled being in the infusion center.
“You’re very cold, and they keep the chemo rooms so cold. They do it for a purpose; germs don’t grow in the cold,” Larsen said.
In February, 81 women of the church came together to craft 135 fleece hats. The hats were taken to the VA hospital, the American Cancer Society and other cancer centers for distribution. The group, which has no formal name, gets together about every three months to churn out more caps. It has other projects that make blankets, pillow cases for patients and baby items for newborns at University Medical Center.
Since 2000, the group estimates it has created more than 18,000 items for adults and children. People show up randomly to help the effort. They meet at the Las Vegas Redrock Stake, 3400 W. Charleston Blvd.
“We tell people it’s the chapel by the water district building,” said Sandee Stewart, who has been at the helm of the effort the past six years. “That way, people can find it. We have a lot of people who are not LDS but who enjoy sewing or quilting.”
The next gatherings are planned for 9:30 a.m. to noon. Sept. 4, Nov. 6, and Feb. 5, 2015. They do different humanitarian projects at the different meetings. The February meeting will be the next one specifically for chemo hats.
Why do they do it?
“This makes us feel good. If we have a little extra time, we may as well spend it doing something productive,” said Christal Clow.
Margaret Davis is a former seamstress. She floated around, monitoring the work of others, helping those who seemed stuck.
“I love these women, our church group. … I love being together and sewing. It’s my passion,” Davis said. “And I love service. I said to my husband, ‘Sorry, honey, you’re on your own for lunch today.’ “
For those who aren’t seamstresses, there was a corner for making yarn tied quilts and another that makes cards for a matching game given to at-risk schools. The matching games help children for whom English is a second language.
“It’s therapy but incentive for me to help the children,” said Mary James, who added that she can lose track of time with the activity. “I feel like I’m accomplishing something for the children.”
All ages participate. In summer, teens will join the group.
“We had a little lady who was 90,” Stewart said. “And we have a lot of people who crochet and knit at home.”
Stewart buys the fleece when it’s on sale or uses coupons to get a good price. She buys it by the bolt. A bolt, if it’s new, is 10 yards. A couple of other women cut the fabric for the hats.
“I’m working on getting more (helpers) because it’s overwhelming,” Stewart said.
UMC passed along a letter from a girl, 11, who’d received pillowcases when she was in the hospital for a brain tumor.
“I want to thank each and everyone,” she wrote. “These pillow cases have really helped me. Made me feel warm and cozy then when I heard I can keep it, I was so excited. Thank you. I will never ever ever forget meeting this one special lady at Walmart. My mom and I make blankets for the NSPCA, so we were getting fabric when this lady picked the same fabric my pillow was in Dec 2009! I then told her about my pillow case. It brought tears to her and my mom and I even cried. She asked me to help pick out (fabric) for more children. Then weeks later the fabric I picked out came in the mailed shipped as a pillow case. I was sooooo happy. Thank you all so much for helping me get better.”
LoRene Turner said the effort began at her home, when she and a group of other church members sewed items for others.
“We called it ‘Hugs,’ ” she said. “It was mostly pajamas and quilts and baby clothes. … Some (pregnant) mothers come to the hospital and don’t bring a blanket for their newborn baby. So we give them blankets.”
The effort eventually got too big and found a home at the stake facility, she said.
Not all of it is work. The women use the gathering to include a pot luck, making it as much a social event as a working one.
“A lot of the older women are on a fixed income, and this is their chance to have a social event, as well as doing something good for someone else,” Stewart said.
For more information, call 702-877-3008 or Stewart at 702-373-0464.
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 702-387-2949.