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Members of the UD Knitting and Crochet Club made matching
hearts for coronavirus patients and loved ones not allowed to visit
Lankenau Medical Center due to restrictions. Most
of the creations can fit in the palm of a hand.
thing worse than standing by the side of a loved one as they suffer the
pain and uncertainty of the coronavirus? Not being able to stand by the
side of a loved one as they suffer the pain and uncertainty of the
In recent months, in an attempt to limit the spread of the COVID-19
contagion, hospitals across America have shut down to visitors. This
means some families have been separated at their darkest moment. While
one member is resigned to the lonesome sterility of an intensive care
unit, everyone else is stuck at home with nothing to do but pray.
But one group of University of Delaware students has found a way to
temper this suffering just a bit. The Knitting and Crochet Club at UD,
affectionately called KCC, recently joined an effort called Loops for
Love. Along with members of the wider community, these Blue Hens
stitched matching hearts for coronavirus patients and their families at
Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. The students,
representing a variety of majors across campus, submitted more than 40
sets, most of which fit in the palm of a hand.
The hearts were initially intended for dying patients only.
Specially designated end-of-life support nurses carried one into the
appropriate room and, when the time came, they read a prayer that
acknowledged the humanity of the person before them as more than a
statistic. The matching fabric token would then get mailed to family
members, so they would know their loved one did not pass away alone. But
the hospital received so many donations, hearts were soon distributed
in less severe cases as well.
They represent togetherness, even when people are separated, said rising junior Elizabeth Dawson, a history major
who mobilized the club from her home in Wilmington after her mother, a
cardiovascular nurse at Lankenau, brought the project to her attention.
We want these families to feel a sense of unity despite the separation.
We didnt have a numerical goal in mind; we just wanted to have a
positive effect on as many lives as possible.
So far, its a small thing thats made a big impact.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Junior Elizabeth Dawson, a history major, mobilized members
of the Knitting and Crochet Club at UD when she heard about Loops for
Love, the latest in a string of philanthropic efforts undertaken by the club.
We are incredibly grateful to the students of UD for their heartfelt
donations and support, said Phil Robinson, president of the medical
center. Our patients continue to find the handmade hearts so comforting
during a time that can feel very lonely for them. Donations such as
these from our community truly demonstrate the inspiring humanity that
exists around us.
But its not just the sick and bereaved whove benefited its also the staff.
Watching this outpouring of love from all over the country, I get
emotional, said Laurie Watson, director of patient experience and
volunteer services at Lankenau. It was a real boost to the morale here,
because there were some dark days, as you can imagine. As a nurse, this
period has been heartwrenching its one of the hardest things Ive
ever done. This gave us hope.
The members of KCC will tell you their participation wasnt entirely
selfless they, too, benefitted from the work. Take Angie Lopez, a
rising sophomore majoring in art history.
For her, after the virus upended academic routine for college students
around the country, the project provided a sense of control.
Its given me something to do to ground myself during these times,
said the Lodi, New Jersey, native. The activity helps with my anxiety,
because its repetitive and almost mindless in a good way. Its
Across an ocean, 2019 graduate Brittany Benner has found similar comfort in the cause. The secondary mathematics education major
and former KCC president now teaches at an international school in
Sweden, and being away from family and friends at such an unprecedented
moment in the world hasnt been easy. But by rejoining forces with the
club, which she described as near and dear to my heart, shes found a
sense of calm.
Theyre very nonjudgmental, said Angie Lopez, a sophomore
majoring in art history, about the members of KCC. The club
The most recent, and biggest, example is the birth of my first
niece, Benner said. While I've been working and living in Sweden, my
sister had a little girl, Magnolia. It pains me that I have not been
able to meet this beautiful baby and see her grow. When these feelings
catch up to me, I find comfort in crocheting.
This is not the clubs first foray into service. In the past, members
have knitted stuffed octopuses with tentacles specifically designed to
soothe premature babies. And, most recently, they participated in
something known as yarn bombing. To raise awareness for Lyme disease,
the group affixed lime green creations to parking meters, a clock tower
and several building exteriors in downtown Newark. (The students are
also responsible for the scarf that, during colder months, adorns a
campus statue of Judge Hugh M. Morris, the late U.S. District Judge and
namesake of UDs Hugh M. Morris Library.)
But, since the need for social distancing, philanthropy has taken
on new meaning it bonds the group at a time when separation is the
norm. In trying to provide a sense of connection for strangers through
handmade hearts, the members of KCC have found a way to stay connected
themselves, checking in with one another via phone calls and Zoom
Even when were apart, working on the same thing brings us
together, Dawson said. Its great to have this shared sense of
purpose. According to Lankenau representatives, the response to Loops
for Love has been so strong, the hospital is hitting pause on the heart
donations. Instead, they are now accepting knitted ear savers for
hospital staff, the little devices that protect frontline workers
against face-mask irritation.
You can bet that the needles of the KCC crew are primed and ready to go.
Sometimes, artists are compelled to create and create, but they
dont know what to do with their stuff, other than trying to sell it,
said Emma Lewis, a rising sophomore linguistics
major. Our art is so often for ourselves, but when you can use it to
help someone else, thats a wonderful feeling. Its a great outlet for
giving back and feeling better inside.
Article by Diane Stopyra; photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and courtesy of Janice Dawson and Laurie Watson
Aug. 31, 2020