Karin Roelf thought she was donating hats and scarves to Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Dec. 12, but according to the nonprofit, what she was donating was love.
Roelf has been crocheting for 25 years, and she delivered 50 hats and 60 scarves to the organization, 1501 Las Vegas Blvd. North. Hats take her about three hours and scarves about six hours, so she put more than 800 hours of work into the donation, and that isn’t counting the six baby blankets she donated, each of which took her several days to make.
“I started doing it because when my husband and I were watching TV at night, I would fall asleep,” Roelf said. “I made afghans and things for friends. I am not the kind who makes doilies to go under everything. I thought to make things a little more meaningful, so I started making things for charities that give warm clothes to the needy.”
She began bringing the items to Catholic Charities eight years ago because a friend was volunteering there.
“They do so many different things there,” she said. “They help the homeless, and they feed the people from the women’s shelter. We are not Catholic. We belong to a different denomination, but I bring them there because they help people, and the things I make go to people who need them.”
Roelf said her husband supports her and her work. He teaches at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and is a retired Clark County School District teacher.
“He even cooks and does the dishes so I have more time to crochet,” Roelf said.
She purchases yarn at sales and online, but she also receives some by donation. She makes her work simple but attractive. She keeps it simple in order to make as many as possible and makes it attractive because she believes the people who receive them are important and deserve to wear something they like, not just something that keeps them warm.
“If I’m purchasing the yarn myself, I choose pleasant colors,” Roelf said. “Some organizations ask for dark colors for the homeless, but I think if a lady gets a hat, she wants something pretty. A popular style right now is the slouch beanie, so I try to make a few of those, too. I try to accommodate everyone, not just the ladies, so I make them for children and men, also.”
She prefers to work with four-ply yarn for the added warmth, although she’ll work with any yarn that is donated.
Roelf is a two-time cancer survivor, having beaten breast cancer nine years ago and uterine cancer two years ago.
“I’m healthy now, and I hope it doesn’t return,” she said. “The operation was quick, but the other treatments were grueling.”
During her 5 1/2-hour chemotherapy sessions, she passed the time crocheting.
Peggy Caspar, vice president of development for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, said that while the organization has many generous donors and wonderful volunteers who contribute their time, handmade items are unique and particularly appreciated.
“Those make such a difference,” Caspar said, “because they’re handmade, because they’re brand new, because they’re made with love and often prayer in mind. It really touches our clients’ hearts. It can really change someone’s life, because it makes them feel special and it makes them feel valued.”
Contact East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 702-380-4532.