Afghans, quilts from scraps help the homeless NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

March 29, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

The little notice kept appearing in various knitting publications, and Linthicum resident Eloise Vaughan said she couldn't ignore it. She didn't want to ignore it.

A Wisconsin woman was starting a project to aid the homeless, a project that was perfect for Mrs. Vaughan.

Warm Up America! collects yarn and swatch donations and assembles them into afghans or quilts. Then the quilts are given to organizations including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army or directly to the homeless.

Mrs. Vaughan, who runs the Knitting Loft from her Linthicum home, has more than enough yarn and has students, friends and customers who were eager to donate swatches for a good cause.

"It's such a worthwhile project," Mrs. Vaughan said. "I just thought this was something I could do to help out."

Rows and rows and more rows of yarn decorate the little room in the rear of Mrs. Vaughan's home. And, she tells visitors, there is even more yarn upstairs. Her handiwork, hand-knitted sweaters, decorates the room.

But since last fall, the sweaters have had to share space with the quilts.

Warm Up America! began last summer and is expected to continue through the end of this summer. So far 9,000 quilts have been made across the United States. Many of the quilts have gone to shelters. Others went to the people displaced when Hurricane Andrew battered Florida last year.

In Anne Arundel County, Mrs. Vaughan began receiving donations last fall. By Christmas, she said enough squares had been collected to begin assembling them into a quilt. Now four quilts have been completed and donated to the Salvation Army, and another seven will soon be on their way.

The squares are 7 inches by 9 inches. Forty-nine squares are stitched together to make an afghan 49 inches by 63 inches. Mrs. Vaughan said she hopes she will be able to gather enough squares and enough help to complete 25 afghans by the summer.

If the people who continue to call her about the project send in their squares, the goal of 25 may be surpassed, she said.

The Warm Up America! national goal is 20,000 quilts.

The women of the Pascal Senior Center have provided a great deal of assistance, Mrs. Vaughan said. The women get together a few times a week to assemble the squares.

And there is a widow who prefers to do her knitting alone while watching television. Mrs. Vaughan said the woman has been averaging about an afghan a week for the past few weeks.

Mrs. Vaughan said she has yet to hear of any reaction from a homeless person about the patchwork quilts. But she said she is hopeful the afghans will stir some positive emotions.

"I haven't heard anything about anyone bursting into tears and saying, 'This reminds me of a quilt my grandmother made,' " Mrs. Vaughan said. "But I hope [the quilts] do remind them of something that feels like home."

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