By Jessica Groover
Patients of the Hospice & Palliative Care of Cabarrus County are keeping warm this winter, thanks to the efforts of the Hooks and Needles Club at Taylor Glen in Concord.
The club with 18 members has been actively making lap robes, which are blankets that cover patients from their waist down, and prayer shawls for the last two years. Last year, they made more than 300 lap robes and prayer shawls for terminally ill patients.
Every Thursday night after dinner, the group of mostly retirement home residents meets to crochet and knit, while also talking about the latest news.
Donna Cameron, the head of the group, also reads thank you notes from the patients who receive the lap robes and prayer shawls and their families.
Past notes have included messages, “Your gift was a great comfort,” “There are angels,” and “The warmth will feel so good this winter.”
The effort began about three years ago when another woman started to crochet the gifts. After she died and Cameron moved to Taylor Glen, Cameron found the yarn and started crocheting, something she has been doing for most of her life.
Gradually, more people joined Cameron.
The group decided to give their gifts to hospice patients because some of the men at Taylor Glen had been making wooden angels to sell for the hospice center.
After the Hooks and Needles Club finishes its projects for each month, the lap robes and prayer shawls are displayed at Taylor Glen before a representative from the hospice center collects and distributes them to the patients.
“It’s amazing how fast a month goes by, and we have enough to fill the benches (at Taylor Glen to display them),” Cameron said.
While the thread can be limited at times, the members of Hooks and Needles try to find colors that go well together for the lap robes.
“Sometimes we’re lucky enough that it’s their favorite color,” Cameron said.
The members of Hooks and Needles know how much their gifts mean to the hospice patients, and they also gain something from being in the group.
“It’s a very caring group,” Cameron said.
For Cameron, the most rewarding part of being in the Hooks and Needles Club is getting people involved at Taylor Glen.
Cameron plays a large role in recruiting new members for the group. After all, she was able to recruit Dr. Winfry Whicker, a longtime family practice physician from China Grove who had never crocheted before.
“I’d come by here, and every week, Donna would say, ‘Come in and I’ll show you how to [crochet],’” Whicker said. “One week, I decided to do it.”
Since he joined the group about a year ago, Whicker has made approximately 18 to 20 lap robes, one of which was for a friend of his who had been terminally ill with prostate cancer.
“He was a Wake Forest grad, as I am, and I did a black and gold (lap robe),” Whicker said.
After crocheting for a year now, he continues to challenge himself with new patterns. Cameron has noticed Whicker learned fast, something she attributed to his career.
“He’s good with his hands, but he was a doctor, so I guess you’d have to be good with your hands,” Cameron said.
Even though he is the only regular male member who crochets, Whicker does not mind. After all, he is keeping busy and helping people, something he is used to as a doctor.
“It’s good to know (the lap robes) go to a cause where they are used and wanted,” Whicker said.
Whicker and others have no plans to stop knitting and crocheting for the hospice patients.
“Right now, I don’t see any reason to stop,” Whicker said. “Once you get involved in (Donna’s) group, you can’t get out.”
• Contact reporter Jessica Groover: 704-789-9152.