Knitters raise money for YMCA scholarships

Monroe County YMCA visitors followed their Monday morning workout with literal warm fuzzies at the YMCA’s annual holiday sale of handmade winter clothes and Christmas gifts.

The three-day holiday bazaar at Monroe County YMCA raises money for the organization’s “Y for All” scholarship fund, which provides financial assistance to visitors.

“It allows people in our community, who otherwise couldn’t, purchase memberships or pay for classes,” Bazaar Organizer and YMCA Adult Wellness Director Gayle ?Ebel said.

Items for the sale are made by the Service in Friendship crafting and knitting group, which meets monthly to sit, knit and share updates on their work, Ebel said. Members knit in their spare time between meetings.

“We do kind of show and tell,” Ebel said. “As you can see, they’re super productive.”

The bazaar, hosted in the lobby of the Monroe County YMCA’s Southeast building, features tables of warm winter clothing as well as doll clothes, purses and even knitted stress balls.

The group also makes non-knitted items — felt Christmas ornaments on the front table are popular, as well as quilted hot pads. One member of the group created heart-shaped earrings that have “made with love” etched into one side.

YMCA development director Becca Lockhart handled the cash box Monday morning at the start of the sale. She said the bazaar raises over $5,000 for YMCA programs and scholarships.

“Just from some scarves, ” she said, praising the crafters. “It’s beautiful stuff, but you wouldn’t think it would sell this much.”

About 75 percent of the funds go to scholarships for membership fees and classes, Lockhart said. The bazaar also helps pay for the YMCA’s community outreach program and subsidizes programs like SPLASH , a free swimming safety class for children.

“This past summer we sent 80 kids to our day camp for free,” Lockhart said.

Knitter Ingrid Beery stood at a long table of hats and ?fingerless gloves Monday morning, watching customers and chatting with other Service in Friendship members.

“Sometimes it’s really interesting to see people go through things,” Beery said, miming a customer ruffling scarves. “See what really works for them.”

Beery said she’s been with Service in Friendship for several years now. She knits hats, scarves, shawls, even stuffed snowman decorations, all of which are on sale at the holiday bazaar. Craft store In a Yarn Basket donates some materials, she said, and Service in Friendship members buy the rest of their yarn from the store.

To Beery’s left, another long table was covered with neatly folded scarves. A foam mannequin head modeled a red and white striped  hat and scarf near Ebel’s own work.

Ebel combines smaller balls of yarn to make the multicolored scarves at the ?bazaar.

“All the things I make are from reclaimed yarn,” ?she said.

Items that aren’t sold this year will still find a home, Ebel said, at the Shalom Community Center or with Monroe County United Ministries.

“Some things we will pack up and sell for next year,” Ebel said. “Most of the items left over we’ll donate to Shalom or MCUM, so people who need warm hats or gloves can have them.”

The bazaar is open 8 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

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