Radford University students were greeted by a warm gesture of kindness as they trekked across campus during the first day of spring semester classes.
Several volunteers spent the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service knitting and crocheting 60 hats, gloves, scarves and cowls for students in need of an extra layer of warmth to battle the chilly weather that marked the beginning of the spring semester.
The winter gear was hung around the campus fountain on January 21, 2020. Senior psychology major Eilish Bailey, a student intern for the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), photographed the volunteers as they gently tied or wrapped the pieces around the black enclosure that surrounds the popular landmark.
Each item had a caring note that read, “I’m not lost. If you are cold and need me, please take me home.”
The generous project was the idea of the Radford Yarn Makers, a group of faculty and staff that organized in 2014 to share in their respective crafts, socialize and serve the community. Many of the group members agreed the gatherings, usually held during lunchtime, are a therapeutic break from the work day.
“It is a fun opportunity to visit with colleagues and connect off the clock,” said Radford Yarn Makers member Samantha Blevins, Ph.D., an instructional designer and learning architect for CITL. “During our meetings, we typically chat about what we are working on, help each other if we get stuck on a project or drop a stitch and look for problems that we can help solve, like keeping our students warm.”
For the MLK Jr. Day of Service, Blevins said the group was excited to use their talents to help keep students safe and warm during the winter months, which can be especially frigid in Southwest Virginia. In addition to the cold weather gear, the knitters also made 24 hats for infants to send to the Ronald McDonald House in Roanoke.
“As we hung things out that day at the fountain, I heard our members say, ‘It feels so wonderful to make these for others who need them,’ and, ‘My heart is so full,’” Blevins said. “I have a feeling that next year will be even better with even more items to give away.”
In the past, Blevins said, the group has also donated items to the Dean of Students Coat Closet and the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley.