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East County Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 10 years ago

Crafters group lends expertise to comfort injured soldiers

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

EAST COUNTY — Charlotte Rawlings is keeping her hands extra busy these days, but it’s for a good cause.

As a member of Braden River Presbyterian Church’s Lady Crafters, Rawlings and more than a dozen other women are busy crocheting and knitting rectangular squares that will be pieced into afghans for soldiers who have been wounded in combat.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know you can bring some joy and comfort to our wounded soldiers who are doing something for us,” Rawlings said.

The project is part of a nationwide effort called The Handmade Afghans Project, an endeavor to thank the nation’s soldiers for their sacrifices. Project coordinators such as Rawlings organize friends and colleagues to crochet or knit 6-by-9-inch rectangles from acrylic, four-ply, worsted-weight yarn and then collect the pieces, grouping them by color. Then, they send those pieces to another coordinator to be washed, pieced together as a twin-sized blanket and, then, delivered to injured soldiers.

The blankets are sent to 10 military hospitals, including Walter Reed A.M.C., in Washington, D.C., Landstuhl Regional Hospital, in Germany, and Craig Joint Theater Hospital, in Afghanistan. More than 3,300 afghans have been delivered since the project’s inception in late 2004.

Women in the Lady Crafters group met earlier this month to turn in their first batch of rectangles, which are grouped in sets of seven. Some women had just joined in on the project, having been detained by the busyness of the Christmas holidays, but others had already made several batches. Rawlings completed 86 squares before the group’s first meeting in January.

“Now (that the holidays are over), we’ll be able to move forward and really turn them out,” Rawlings said.
Wilda Svoboda, who hosts the Lady Crafters group at her East County home twice a month, echoed Rawlings’ enthusiasm for HAP.

“It’s a great project,” she said. “It shows that we really care about the people who have served our country.”
Rawlings said she came up with the idea after seeing a picture in the newspaper of a group of women from Ana Maria Island who was participating in the project.

“I thought, ‘What a neat thing to do,’” Rawlings said. “Maybe our church would like to do it. The more I looked, the more excited I got.”

After a few phones calls for information, Rawlings couldn’t wait to get started. Her Lady Crafters group agreed to adopt the project as one of their 2010 projects.

And now throughout the year, participating women will knit or crochet the squares in their spare time or at the group’s meetings. The Lady Crafters will be undertaking several other projects this year, as well, including making banners for their church and other projects.

For information about The Handmade Afghans Project, visit the organization’s Web site,

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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