Teenagers are fiddlers—fiddling with their phones, music devices, hand-held games, you name it. But three White Bear Lake 13-year-olds are keeping their hands busy to help others stay warm during winter’s bitter temperatures.
As they knit and purl their way to a Girl Scout Silver Award, the three members of Girl Scout Troop 52784 hope to knit or collect 500 hats, scarves and mittens by May 31, 2015, to donate to Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, People Serving People in Minneapolis and the White Bear Lake Area Education Foundation’s Angel Fund.
Sunrise Park Middle School eighth-graders Anika Dahl, Maddie Lamwers and Paige Fleming wanted their Silver project to focus on people in need, so they researched programs that offer assistance to people facing various circumstances.
“I have learned a lot about Native Americans and what they’ve been through in American history,” Anika says of her desire to help residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to 40,000 residents and with an 80 percent unemployment rate.
Maddie says People Serving People, Minnesota’s largest family-focused shelter, is a good match for the service project. “It’s a local place, and it serves families. That’s what we’re looking for,” she explains.
The Angel Fund was established in 2000 to help children in the area meet basic needs. Its extension, The Closet, offers district students the opportunity to “shop” free of charge for clothing items. “It’s giving back to our community,” Paige says of the nonprofit.
After the three programs were identified, the girls created a project plan and submitted it to the Girl Scouts Council. Once they received approval to proceed with the project, “We immediately started taking action,” Anika says.
“Knitting for Warmth” wove a desire to help others with the girls’ knitting abilities, which each of them discovered in different ways. As a fourth-grader, Anika suffered a whiplash injury in a sledding accident. While she recovered from her injury, her grandmother taught her to knit. “I find it really relaxing and fun to do,” Anika says. “And I like the fact that we’re helping people while knitting.”
Maddie also finds the pastime relaxing; she learned the craft from a friend while living in China during her fifth- and sixth-grade years. Paige picked it up during a Girl Scout camping trip and finds a meditative quality to knitting. “It takes all your thoughts away,” she says.
While knitting can offer relaxation, the girls keep a steady eye on their goal. In an effort to reach the 500-donation mark and integrate an element of sustainability into the knitting project, they organized “Knit-Wits” at Sunrise Park Middle School. Paige says the knitting group meets after school on Wednesdays for 90 minutes.
“They’re all natural leaders,” says Angel Fleming, who co-leads the scout group along with Mary Dahl, adding the girls are adept at public speaking and working with groups. This is evident as the girls widened the donation circle by reaching out to local yarn shops and knitting clubs for donations of materials and warm outerwear. Anika is pleased with the community’s support. “They have been completely hands-on and supportive,” she says. More than 160 items have been donated, and community members have engaged in some of the best advertising the troop could hope for—word of mouth, by telling customers and friends about the project.
“It feels wonderful that they’re listening, they’re helping, and they’re eager to help us with our program,” Paige says.
Lend a Hand
Yarn and knitted or crocheted cold-weather items can be donated through May 31 to Girl Scout Troop 52784 at:
Lila and Claudine’s Yarn and Gifts, 86 Mahtomedi Ave., Mahtomedi
3 Kittens Needle Arts, 750 Main St. Suite 112, Mendota Heights
A Sheepy Yarn Shoppe, 2185 Third St., White Bear Lake