Sigh. Once again it's been months since my last update. I'll skip the preamble and just show what some of what we've been up to!
We couldn't do what we do without support from family, friends and strangers. A recipient of some of our chemo caps, Lisa Lindstrom celebrated being cancer-free for one year by donating money to Hats Off to Liz. We were well stocked with yarn at the time, so we purchased flannelette, thread and notions for our infant loss program. We are SO grateful for the generosity of people like Lisa who help us continue making comfort items for cancer patients and infant loss items for wee ones lost too soon.
THANK YOU so much to our talented, dedicated and generous team members for another amazing year, and special thanks to our supporters for your enthusiastic and much-appreciated support of Hats Off to Liz.
It's been two years since we updated the blog!? Oops!
So what exactly have we been up to?
1. We have officially reached the 1000 donated chemo caps milestone! We've made and donated 1187 chemo caps since November 2011. One thousand and twenty-nine of those have gone directly to Credit Valley Hospital, while the remaining hats have been sent out to friends, family members and strangers who have made special requests for those undergoing cancer treatment.
2. We've made and donated 661 infant loss items to Credit Valley Hospital's Perinatal Bereavement Program, including knitted and crocheted hats, blankets, and buntings, as well as gowns and buntings made from donated wedding dresses.
3. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of several women who have donated their wedding gowns to us. Elizabeth Tait, Rosalind Skugor, Michalynn Long, Lisa Hervatin, Jada Twist, Luisa Brown, Jennifer Last, Mellissa Cellitti, Ellen Wilson and Leanne MacDonald have all passed along their beautiful gowns to us, and Hats Off to Liz member Gaile Merritt-Murrell purchased three gowns at a clearance sale and sent them our way.
4. We started tweeting! You can find us on Twitter by doing a search for Hats Off to Liz. We are @Hatsliz - come follow us!
5. We still like to take pictures...
Dedicate some of your life to others. Your dedication will not be a sacrifice. It will be an exhilarating experience because it is an intense effort applied toward a meaningful end.
~ Dr Thomas Dooley
The hot, sticky, humid Southern Ontario weather has definitely moved in, but we're still happily playing with yarn!
In fact, we're very proud to announce that as of today we have made and donated 366 infant loss items and 838 chemo caps to Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario. Our actual grand total of donated chemo caps is 974 because we have sent off 136 caps as special requests from family and friends who have loved ones in treatment.
We've also started using the donated wedding dresses in the creation of our infant loss items. It's amazing how long it takes to gently pull apart a wedding gown -- and even more incredible is the amount of gorgeous fabric left behind once they're fully deconstructed!
We've been fortunate enough to receive some very generous donations from our family and friends to help keep us hooking, knitting and sewing. Thank you to Pam Dickson and Jodi Lumsden for all the wonderful yarn, and thank you to Kathy Sweeney and Sylvia Kobal for the monetary donations that allow us to buy other necessary supplies (trim and embellishments) and make it possible for us to mail out chemo caps when we receive special requests. Your support is invaluable and so much appreciated.
One of our amazingly talented knitters decided to give "Knitted Knockers" a try. These are soft prosthetic breast forms designed to be used almost immediately following a mastectomy -- something that is impossible for other kinds of prosthetic forms because they are too painful to wear right after surgery. Knitted knockers are stuffed with fiberfill and designed to be customized by the wearer for the best fit possible. We sent off one pair to a friend of one of our Hats Off to Liz members who just had a double mastectomy, and the other pair has been sent off to Credit Valley Hospital.
Inspiration comes when you least expect it. A friend and member of Hats Off to Liz who also spearheads her own creative charitable group in support of several different causes, encouraged members of her group to create bookmarks for those in cancer treatment. They spend long hours at the hospital, and what better way to while away the time than to get lost in a good book. Thank you to Teresa Frey for inspiring members of Hats Off to Liz to do the same!
As always, we wish that none of this work was necessary, but we will continue to do it for as long as there is a need -- and for as long as our fingers will let us knit, crochet, sew and create!
Oops! It's been awhile since we shared what we've been up to!
In a nutshell, we've been happily playing with yarn.
We're very proud to report that we have now donated a total of 328 infant loss items (buntings, blanket and hat sets, burial gowns and four memory boxes) to Credit Valley Hospital since we started making bereavement items in spring 2012.
On the chemo cap front, after dropping off 43 hats to Credit Valley Hospital in September 2014, 118 more in December 2014, and mailing out 8 special requests, we are sitting at a grand total of 917 donated hats! Seven-hundred and eighty-four of those went directly to Credit Valley, including several sweet and whimsical hats earmarked for the pediatric oncology unit.
So it's business as usual at Hats Off to Liz! Of course we wish there was never a need for the items we make, but we're honoured to be able to provide some small comfort to those who need it most.
We recently learned that good things really do come in small packages--and that they're donated by thoughtful and generous people! After hearing about the work we do, the Hats Off to Liz team was given a 2014 CNE Super Family Pass worth $148 to raffle off to our local team members! The pass consists of two Admission Passes and two Ride All Day passes (admission and unlimited midway rides). We didn't approach the CNE and ask for this; they simply heard about what we do from a friend of Hats Off To Liz and decided they wanted to give us a little something, just because.
I know! When does that ever happen?!
Anyway, we decided to put the names of the local members in a hat and draw a winner, and that lucky winner was the lovely and talented Elizabeth Rossi, one of our fabulous crocheters (who specializes in funky brimmed chemo caps)!
And thank you SO much to Joanne Benerowski, Manager, Advance Sales & Community Relations at the Canadian National Exhibition. We are very grateful for your support and generosity. It was nice to be able to offer this exiting little reward to one of our loyal members.
The CNE begins on Friday, August 15 and runs through September 1, 2014. Make sure to stop by for a waffle cone and wander through the grounds of the CNE--one of the top 10 agricultural fairs in North America and Canada's largest community event!
See you at the EX! I'll be the one with the yarn.
Thankfully, it was the perfect winter to stay inside and play with yarn! And so that's exactly what we did.
In December 2013, Hats Off to Liz dropped off 98 homemade chemo caps to Credit Valley Hospital--our biggest single donation yet! By March we had another 52 ready to go. With that donation, we brought our total of chemo caps donated directly to Credit Valley to a whopping 575!
Our grand total, however, is 689 hats since November 2011. Our main goal is to supply Credit Valley Hospital with soft, colourful chemo caps, but others have gone to friends, family members and sometimes even strangers upon special request.
Late last year we also had a mini chemo cap drive for McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton. At the suggestion of one our members (who knows a sweet little girl being treated there), we made and donated 30 child-sized hats for the tiny patients at McMaster just before Christmas. It is utterly gut wrenching to think about what these children and their families must go through, so we hope that maybe our hats brought a little bit of much-needed comfort and warmth at Christmastime.
While the weather may have been awful, the last few months has been very good to us as far as donations go. As a thank-you for mailing out a few chemo caps to her mother-in-law, Jodi Lumsden sent us a beautiful batch of yarn so we'd be able to make more hats for important people like her husband's mom.
Just before Christmas a kind and creative anonymous benefactor sent us a few balls of lovely, squishy-soft yarn and a custom made Hats Off to Liz ornament! The donor has never revealed him/herself, so we haven't been able to formally send our heartfelt thanks for the wonderful surprise!
In April, just as the weather was finally starting to change from winter over to spring, we received a huge box of cotton and bamboo yarn from a friend whose identity we DO know, but who wishes to remain anonymous. The gift was perfectly timed, since we shift over to cotton and other lighter yarns in the spring and summer.
Finally, just yesterday we received a $100 cheque in the mail from the neighbour of a woman named Andrea who had been on the receiving end of one of our chemo cap donations while she was battling breast cancer. Bradley Preboy wanted to purchase a coloured pencil sketch made by Andrea, but instead she asked him to make a donation to Hats Off to Liz. Two very kind souls indeed.
We are so incredibly grateful for the generosity of our friends, family--and strangers! We truly couldn't do what we do without your support.
Of course we still continue to knit and crochet infant loss items for the Perinatal Bereavement Program at Credit Valley Hospital. The tiny outfits, buntings, hats and blankets are given to wee babies born too early to survive. It means the world to us to know that these sweet little ones have something soft and special to wear, just like every baby deserves.
Starting this summer we are going to be making infant loss items from donated wedding dresses. After posting an article about a charity doing the same, we were stunned when friends started offering their own wedding dresses to Hats Off to Liz. Our resident seamstress, Melinda, has generously volunteered to work with the dresses and will be making prototypes in June before cutting the actual dresses. We are incredibly grateful to the generous women who are willing to part with such a special item of clothing. All we keep thinking of is the little ones who will have something sweet, special and just their size to wear while mom and dad say goodbye.
The warmer weather is almost here, which means it'll soon be time for patios, BBQs, cottages and picnics. But no matter what the weather, we are always knitting, hooking and sewing in the hopes that our work can bring comfort to those who need it most. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Yup, that's Hats Off to Liz!
Yup, this pretty much sums up just about every Yarnapalooza: lots of knitting and crocheting, but even more raucous laughter. I have to think that items made in the midst of this kind of joy and camaraderie are somehow infused with at least a little good, happy energy. I'd like to believe that, anyway. Pictured here: Bridget, Denise and Mary.
“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
We've been a little quiet here lately, but that doesn't mean we've slowed down at all! The Hats Off to Liz team has been as busy as ever since our last update way back in January. In fact, we just recently donated 87 chemo caps to Credit Valley Hospital, bringing our grand total up to 479! Most of our hats go to Credit Valley, which is where Liz was treated, but we have also sent some special requests to as far away as Queensland, Australia and Baltimore, Maryland this year.
In addition to the chemo cap part of our work, we also still regularly send infant loss items--blankets & hat sets and burial buntings--to Credit Valley Hospital for their Infant Bereavement Program. Unfortunately the need is so great, they are always pleased when we send a bag of these tiny infant loss items their way. They are definitely a work of heart.
2013 has been a banner year for donations! While no corporate donations from yarn manufacturers have come our way, we've been fortunate to have received enough yarn donations from friends and family members to keep us going since the beginning of the year--we haven't had to purchase any yarn for the group since 2012! Many thanks to Beth Allan, Lori Bianco, Shirley Finkelstein, Donna Fitzgerald, Doreen Amato, Shirley Shearer, Carmie Domet, Elizabeth Tait and Lynn Kozak for the cozy balls and skeins you've lovingly sent our way this year.
Of course since we love yarn, it's hard to resist buying it when we see a good deal, so thanks to the Hats Off team for the yarn I know you buy with your own money in between Yarnapalooza events. You are generous in every single way--both with your talent and time and with your yarn buying!
As the weather starts to grow cooler, we will no doubt find more time to sit inside with our needles and hooks. Fall is the perfect time to snuggle in and get cozy with yarn, and we'll happily continue to make these much-needed comfort items in memory of our sweet friend Liz.
Our first full year is now behind us, and what a year it was! Our local ranks swelled from just a couple of knitters and crocheters (who easily fit into my tiny family room), to a big, wonderful, raucous group who happily squeeze into any available spot in the house, floor included. On the last Sunday of every month, my house is a tangle of yarn and friends, both new and old, and I can't imagine it any other way now.
We also continue to get donations from afar, which is pretty amazing given that non-local Hats Off members can't take advantage of the donated yarn that locals have at their disposal, and they have to pay to have their donations shipped to Canada. It confirms what I already knew: yarny people are the best.
In 2012 we started a partnership with Holy Name Of Mary College School, whose grade five and six students are learning how to knit and crochet chemo caps and infant loss items to donate to Hats Off To Liz as part of their 2012/13 Stewardship Program. Hats Off members visit the school as often as we can to support the girls and lend a hand as they continue to improve their skills.
We were also featured on the Volunteer Halton website. Their mission is to foster a healthy and socially innovative community through the act of civic engagement. They link volunteers with organizations, like ours, that need help and resources.
And, of course, we made hats and infant loss items that have been donated to The Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, as well as to chemotherapy patients and bereaved parents near and far, upon special request.
In total, we have sent 322 chemo caps out into the world since December 2011. We've also donated dozens of infant loss items, including wee hats, blankies, and burial buntings, as well as six lapghans for chemo patients.
Our official Credit Valley Hospital tally:
December 2011: 109 hats, including 54 donated baseball caps
January 2012: 31 chemo caps
May 2012: 38 chemo caps
October 2012: 58 chemo caps
December 2012: 50 chemo caps
We also sent out four chemo caps in response to special requests, and the team rallied hard for four children undergoing treatment. We sent out a total of 32 little hats to these wee ones, two sweet girls and two brave little boys.
While it's not something we typically do, we also made a comfort quilt for one of the children. Six Hats Off members each donated squares which were assembled into a fun and cheerful blanket for an 8-year old girl undergoing chemotherapy in Colorado.
So yeah, it's been a pretty busy year! Busy, wonderful, fulfilling and absolutely incredible.
Thank you SO much to the amazing team of yarnies who give so freely of their time and talent to make a difference in the lives of others, and to all the people who have donated yarn and supplies to help further our cause. You are all awesome.
October was a pretty busy and successful month for Hats Off To Liz! On the 4th we paid a visit to Credit Valley Hospital armed with a bag stuffed to the brim with 58 handmade chemo caps and one lapghan. Later in the month we mailed out 10 chemo caps to a little girl in Colorado, 10 chemo caps to a three-year old in Brantford, Ontario, and 9 chemo caps to a little boy in Windsor, Ontario (all special requests that came in from friends of our team members). We also supplied Credit Valley Hospital with 18 more infant loss sets (burial buntings and hat and blanket sets) as well as four individual blankets.
We managed to get ourselves a little bit of publicity too! We were very excited to be featured on Volunteer Halton's website. Our special article went live at the beginning of the month, complete with a photo of the local team (minus a few absentees), and a link to our website. Donations of new yarn is always welcome, so we're hopeful that the Volunteer Halton piece will help to generate some donations over the coming year.
And speaking of donations, we scored our very first corporate yarn donation in October! It is apparently notoriously difficult to procure donated yarn from manufacturers, but we got lucky! Amtex Yarn Manufacturers in Mississauga, Ontario sent us eight skeins of beautiful 100% merino wool. It's washable and soft so it's perfect for chemo caps. We're so grateful for their support!
We also paid our second visit to Holy Name of Mary College School, where the grade 5 and 6 classes are still eagerly honing their knitting and crochet skills. Some of the girls are even starting to produce items for us to donate. Their enthusiasm is contagious and we're proud and grateful that they chose to support Hats Off To Liz for their year-long stewardship program.
As we head into the start of the beautiful Christmas season, we will be keeping those who are struggling with illness and bereavement close in thought as we create items that we hope will bring them a small measure of comfort during a very difficult time.
A special thanks to our awesome family, friends and supporters! We couldn't do what we do without you cheering us on, donating to our cause, and letting us play with yarn as much and as often as we do.