Outreach Partners

Saint Stephen’s Knitters Creating Warmth for Children and Families

(Oxford Ledger Newspaper Article)

By Jane Falkner,
Special Correspondent

Oxford, NC – In a world too often consumed with negative news coverage, a group of women knitters at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Oxford are quietly creating comfort and warmth for children and their families at the Durham Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Duke Children’s Hospital. Through their talents in knitting and crocheting, these ladies create hats and other items for children in need.

To date, Preston Johnson, the “cheerleader” and supporter for the group, has counted over 400 hats, headbands, blankets and toys for children and their families. Under the direction of Leslie Johnson, Preston’s wife, the group meets each Tuesday morning to create the hats and other items.

According to Hannah Sasser, Child Life Specialist at Duke Children’s Hospital, these items “help make a sterile environment more comforting.”

Sasser says she’s “lucky’ to be able to give the hats and blankets and other items to children who need them. She added that the hats and other items are “beautiful gifts that provide warmth, beauty, entertainment and love” for those who need them.

Sasser also reports that some family members get “teary-eyed” knowing that someone cared enough to create these beautiful items for their children.

In addition to the hats, headbands and blankets, the Saint Stephen’s group has begun making tiny animals. Sasser said these little gifts are helpful for the infants. She reported that the Family Room at Duke Children’s Hospital has more donated toys for older children and less for the youngest ones.

Led by Leslie Johnson, an Oxford artist and art teacher, the group meets each Tuesday morning to knit, help others learn to knit and share camaraderie. Other group members include the following: Gail Duque, Bettye Currin, Susan Dartt, Joan Blackwell, Claire Ramsey, Kelly Holden, Jenny Koinis and Jennifer Tartemella. Dawn Lemons, a weekly volunteer at the Durham Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Duke Children’s Hospital, divides the items between these places and the Duke Children’s Hospital’s Intensive Care Nursery, brings the items to the hospital and coordinates with staff and volunteers there. 

Saint Stephen’s Rector, Jamie Pahl added, “Saint Stephen’s is a community-focused parish, and our people want to know and help our neighbors, far and wide. The love and blessing of each thread comes from the Christ-centered love that these women have for life and creation in their hearts. We could not be more proud of their work, and we pray that each item will continue to gently bless these precious children of God and their families.”

Lemons recalls times that grateful parents expressed their thanks for the items and the comfort that they provide for their children. From as close as Stem, North Carolina to as far away as India, families know that there is a group of women in Oxford, North Carolina who care.

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