September is here. Typically, its the time of year we focus on back to school and all the hubbub that goes along with that. As a knitter and crocheter, it might be the time of year where your craft kicks into high gear as we prepare for chillier weather, longer days and holiday gift giving. Here at the Stay Strong Tote foundation, I am happy to say that all summer long our knitting and crocheting never slowed down. Our focus stayed strong, with our mission pushing us forward. Over the summer months, we shipped and delivered almost 100 Stay Strong tote bags to Ronald McDonald Houses. We added a shrug and shawl coordinator in Seattle, Washington and have added another in Syracuse, New York. As happy as we are to be growing, the sad reality is there are so many children battling illnesses. So many families going through the unthinkable. So many moms with broken hearts.
Did you know that September is also Pediatric Cancer Awareness month? Did you know that only four percent of funding for cancer research goes toward pediatric cancers? FOUR percent. We’ve come so far finding cures for cancers that affect us as adults. Four percent for all pediatric cancers combined. Its baffling. I suppose September was chosen as the month to raise awareness for pediatric cancers to help keep families affected distracted and give them something to focus on. Something to fight for. Unfortunately, many of the families raising awareness and fighting for funding have already lost their children. So while most kids are meeting their new friends and teachers, please don’t forget the ones who are meeting their new doctors and nurses. The ones who are hoping for good test results not for their report cards or to make their parents happy, but because their lives depend on it – and their parents are desperate.
Can you imagine hearing the news that your child is seriously ill? How your life must drop out from under you? Add to that crippling fear being told by your child’s doctor that the best treatment options are in a hospital in another state. Ronald McDonald Houses help create a sense of normalcy for these families. A quiet retreat to escape from the hospital. When very long term stays are involved, many times the moms are left alone to battle along with their child. But RMD Houses provide a place to share a meal, do laundry, watch tv, let children play – and to rest. This is what we are supporting. While sending a little love to the moms staying there.
As of this post, the Stay Strong Tote foundation has shipped and delivered 215 totes bags, all including handmade shrugs and shawls. We now support RMD Houses in New Brunswick and Long Branch, NJ; Providence, RI; Denver, CO; Grand Rapids, MI; Seattle, WA and Syracuse, NY. At my last count there were 157 RMD Houses nationwide. Most have waiting lists to get in. That’s a lot of worried moms. But we also know there are thousands of knitters and crocheters. We can’t reach every mom, but imagine the difference we can make – one shrug at a time, one hug at a time – one mom at a time.
If you live near Bridgewater, NJ, and would like to knit or crochet with us, beginning October 4th, we will be meeting on the first and third Wednesday of each month, from 12:30-2:30 at the Martinsville Community Center located behind the Martinsville library on Washington Valley Road. The focus of our gatherings will be to knit shrugs and shawls for RMD House moms. If you’d like to learn how to make our signature shrugs, please bring 2 skeins of Lion Brand Homespun and 1 skein of Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball plus US17 or US19 29″ circular needles (or both if you own them). You can purchase needles on Amazon. If you’d like to make a shrug and learn tunisian crochet, please bring 2 skeins of Red Heart Unforgettable (or Caron Big Cakes) and 1 skein Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball and either an R or an S tunisian hook. I bought mine on Etsy. If you’d like to make a shrug using your favorite yarn and needle you’re most comfortable with, please bring a good sized swatch, done in pattern you’ll be making the shrug in, and we will help you convert your swatch into a shrug. Remember to take advantage of sales and coupons at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore and JoAnns. I bought a bunch of Caron Big Cakes on sale and combined with a coupon for 20% off entire purchase bringing my costs down to nearly wholesale!
If you can’t attend our meetings or don’t live nearby, we still need your help. Email us any questions you may have. We need shrugs, donations for our totes and coordinators for RMD Houses.
If you’re not on Facebook, the following video was a recent post and is a quick overview of our first year and our needs. Please share our mission – help us “Send Hug through Shrugs”.
And as always,