The Joy of Giving
Surprise visitors to the Pigeon Forge Care and Rehab Center on Wednesday brought smiles and warm feelings to the residents of the nursing facility.
Several members of the Stitch & Chatter group descended on the facility with black, plastic trash bags filled with handmade afghans to disperse to the residents. Several residents watched as the afghans were unloaded onto rolling carts, their eyes sharp on one or two they’d especially like to have.
Bennie Whiting was one of those. She had her eye on a multicolored afghan. “Of course, because it’s me, it’s all the way at the bottom,” Whiting said, pointing to one of the carts.
That was no problem for Stitch & Chatter member Anilee McGill, who dug right in the pile to pick out the one Whiting had her eyes on.
“It reminds me of my mother,” Whiting said with emotion as she held her new afghan. “She used to do this.”
Whiting crochets some, too, she said. Mostly small pieces like Christmas ornaments that she usually winds up giving away. So she and her friends at the facility know how much work goes into the afghans they received, making them appreciate their gift that much more.
“Someone has put some hard work into this,” Frieda Roberts said as she watched the unloading process.
Roberts, who chose a bright afghan that included her favorite color orange, said she thought it was wonderful that the group went to such effort to create the afghans for others. “I think it’s just wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Marilyn Ireland echoed those thanks as she received a lilac colored afghan. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said when she learned of the group’s gift. “This will make my Christmas.”
Glenda Trentham, quality-of-life director at the center, said it’s the investment of time that makes their gift so special.
“All the time they’ve put in it, it’s a treasure from the heart,” she said.
Betty Heldman said around 15 members work year-round to make afghans, hats, scarves and gloves to give away to area organizations. Earlier this year the group took 140 afghans to the Ben Atchley State Veterans Home in Knoxville.
Along with the veterans home and the rehab center, the Stitch & Chatter group has also provided handmade gifts to LeConte Medical Center nursery, Shiloh Riders Association Inc., Family Resource Center, Senior Center Angel Tree, Road Riders for Jesus, Douglas Dam Head Start, Thompson Cancer Group, Dialysis Clinic Inc., Sunset Gap, local church groups and Gnatty Branch Animal Shelter.
Heldman said the group has had a “bonanza year” in regards to donations, which helps them provide those smiles and extra warmth to others.
“It’s a labor of love,” Heldman said of their efforts.