Webster Warmth gives scarves to those in need


Holly Hubenschmidt, head of Instruction, Liaison and Reference Services at Emerson Library, started knitting just because she needed something crafty to do. She had always done needle point but the detailed work strained her “over-40 eyes.” So she picked up a book from the library and taught herself how to knit.

She read about the Orphan Foundation of America and their red scarf program, and knew of other knitters who wanted to do something with their craft. The knitters got together in 2006 and knitted red scarves for a Valentine’s Day package for foster children on their way into college.

The project was so successful that the knitters wanted to do it again the next year, but the Orphan Foundation of America got so overwhelmed with scarves the previous year. So Hubenschmidt looked for another organization they could help.

“It just kind of snowballed,” Hubenschmidt said on the beginning of Webster Warmth. “I thought it should have a name so we could actually have a Webster Works project and Webster Warmth was cutesy.”

Eight years later, Webster Warmth is still part of Webster Works Worldwide and has helped a different organization every year. Webster Warmth accepts donations until early December and donors do not have to participate in the Webster Works Worldwide project to donate.

Kathy Gaynor of Emerson Library’s instruction and liaison services said she tries to pick a different organization every year to spread the love. Gaynor officially took over Webster Warmth from Hubenschmidt two years ago.  She publishes a story on Webster Today every year about Webster Warmth and the organization they are helping. This year Webster Warmth is helping Saint Martha’s Hall.

Gaynor is not a knitter, but a quilter. She said her grandmothers showed her how to sew, but she fell in love with quilting about 24 years ago at a quilting convention. She donated a crib-sized quilt one year, but has since picked up crocheting so she can be more sociable at the Webster Warmth day. It’s hard to carry on conversations when she’s working at a sewing machine, Gaynor said. She is going to focus more on crocheting for the next year and wants to eventually move away from scarves.

“I might think about moving on to try a hat some year, but right now all I can manage is a simple scarf,” Hubenschmidt said.

Hubenschmidt is also working towards a knitting goal: She can do scarves, hats and socks, but she wants to tackle sleeves one day. She said she doesn’t keep too many of her pieces for herself.

She does, however, keep a stash of hats on hand, just in case. Hubenschmidt said every few months she hears of someone being diagnosed with cancer. Keeping hats around is her way to show her support and love to those recently diagnosed.

“It’s just really nice to have a couple of soft hats to pull right out and send to them,” Hubenschmidt said.

Hubenschmidt said she loves knitting because the process is so relaxing. She can knit while watching TV or having a conversation. When she does make scarves she collects them for Webster Warmth.

Gaynor said they have collected 21 items so far for Webster Warmth. Gaynor’s office is the official drop off place for the items. She said they usually gather around 50-60 items to donate. Most of them come from Webster Works, Gaynor said, but people can work on their items all the way up to the deadline of Friday, Dec. 5 when the items will be given to the organization.

“People can do it any time, that’s the nice thing about this project,” Gaynor said. “You don’t have to be there to do it.”

Of the eight organizations Hubenschmidt said the Red Scarf Project was probably her favorite. But, she also loved donating to Knit Your Bit at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

“Any time you’re knitting for someone else you’re thinking about them and trying to send good thoughts,” Hubenschmidt said. “It’s a good feeling.”

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