BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the weather getting colder, when men and women arrive at the City Mission and Cornerstone Manor in Buffalo, they'll now be greeted with a physical and emotional gift of warmth thanks to some "Good Neighbors."
The members of the WNY Yarnies have knit and crocheted so many blankets for loved ones over the years, that now they knit them for strangers who certainly don't take the gifts for granted.
"Some family and friends are tired of our gifts," said WNY Yarnies member Macy Lewars. "It's heartwarming to know that people will be getting something from our hands that they'll treasure. It's something that they wouldn't have otherwise."
The Yarnies have been meeting twice each week for about five years to share stitches and stories. They were forced to stop meeting in person during the pandemic, but they found themselves knitting even more.
"You can do it alone, but it's more fun and more entertaining to do it with other people," said Lewars.
Together again, they work to create beautiful designs out of 9-by-9 inch squares they've stitched themselves or collected from others.
"One of the women in the group says she says a prayer over each square she makes," said Yarnies member Pat Group-Ryder.
This year alone they've made nearly 100 blankets and they just donated them for the men at the Buffalo City Mission and the women and children at Cornerstone Manor.
"We are so so blessed and grateful," said Sue Cervi, manager of volunteers at the Buffalo City Mission. "It's a gift that says that someone else is thinking about them, that they're not alone and cared about and valued. And to our folks who come in off the streets who have dealt with trauma and many difficult situations, that means the world and uplifts them and encourages them."
And for these Yarnies, it turns their passion, into a purpose.
"When somebody makes something for you, you know you're special. You know somebody thought about you. And that's what we like about making the handmade blankets," said Group-Ryder.
The Yarnies are always grateful for donations of blankets, acrylic yarn, or 9-by-9 inch squares already knitted or crocheted or made with a loom. They simply ask that a 6 inch tail is left on the square.
Donations can be dropped off Wednesday evenings upstairs in the Market Cafe at Wegmans on Alberta Drive in Amherst or on Saturdays when the Yarnies meet at the Grand Island Welcome Center. They're also happy to pick up donations. Find more information on the WNY Yarnies Facebook page here.
To learn about more volunteer opportunities at the Buffalo City Mission click here.
To nominate a "Good Neighbor" to be featured on Channel 2, email details to Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com
To see past "Good Neighbors" stories, click the videos below.