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Humana Charity Crafters donate quilts, afghans to veterans’ groups

The Humana Charity Crafters, a group of primarily senior women who quilt, knit and crochet clothes and blankets for donation, gathered in Henderson on July 14 to make their biannual donation of handmade items.

Gathered at the Humana building, 1000 N. Green Valley Parkway, they gifted 220 quilts and afghans to Fisher House, and nonprofit that helps military families, and the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas. Health-insurer Humana provided food and drinks while guest speakers thanked the women for their contribution.

While being formally congratulated for their efforts, the ladies quietly kept up work on their next donation.

“I used to come here every day,” said Mary Munoz, 74, one of the two founding quilters of the Humana Charity Crafters. “I do maybe two (quilts) every month because I have other things going on. But we joke, “OK, everyone who doesn’t have a husband, you can do more.’”

The knitting group formed in 2009, a year after the opening of the Henderson Humana building. The group began with two ladies crocheting in the lobby for fun and quickly evolved into more than 50 crafters between Humana’s two sites; another knitting group meets at the Summerlin location, 8885 W. Charleston Blvd.

“As they started working together in the lobby, I was thinking, ‘What are we going to do with these things?’” said Rhonda Mayland, Humana’s guidance center coordinator. “Then I remembered my mother who used to make lapghans for nursing homes.”

The Henderson knitting group meets from 1-3:30 p.m. on Fridays to knit with materials supplied by the Humana staff. After months of working their needles, the group will determine if they have enough to donate to charity. The women then decide on two charities to give to.

Humana’s director of sales and marketing, Dixon Keller, said the knitting group was a “grass-roots effort.”

“It was born here and now has grown nationwide,” Keller said. “The word got out to the rest of the country and other parts of Humana.”

Since 2009, the Henderson location has collected hundreds of thousands of pounds of clothing for veterans, Keller said.

Several of the Humana Charity Crafters’ offerings this months were red, white and blue in honor of the Fourth of July. Many of the women are mothers, aunts or wives to veterans or former veterans. It typically takes a week to a month to finish an item.

“This beautiful work is so appreciated by our veteran patients,” said Karen Cinnamon, voluntary services chief for North Las Vegas’ VA Medical Center.

They ladies previously have donated to the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, U.S. VETS-Las Vegas, Ronald McDonald House and senior homes.

The oldest member of the Humana Charity Crafters, Lillian DuPlessis, 91, finishes two or three a month. Originally from New Orleans, DuPlessis started coming to Humana in 2012 after her husband died.

“I used to do it when I was younger, but when I came here, I had forgotten about me crocheting when I was younger,” DuPlessis said.

Munoz helped DuPlessis by teaching her several crocheting patterns. Now she’s one of the fastest in the group, Munoz said.

“I know all the designs, but there’s one I find very easy, so that’s the one I work on,” DuPlessis said laughing.

Contact Alex Meyer at ameyer@viewnews.com or 702-383-0496. Follow @alxmey on Twitter.

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