Last year, 83-year-old Pauline Swanberg and her sister, Helen Marylou Ellison, donated more than 400 handcrafted scarves to Operation Gratitude, an organization that collects scarves and distributes them to members of the United States military stationed overseas. Swanberg began leading the crochet group at Buckner Villas a little over a year ago. Since the formation of the group, five more women have joined to help make scarves for soldiers. The group, which meets every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., has set a goal of making more than 500 scarves this year.
“My husband served in the National Guard for 21 years and my sister’s husband served in the Korean War for a year and a half,” shared Swanberg, an independent living resident at Buckner Villas.“People choose to give back their time in different ways, and I am glad that I can use my skills in crocheting to make something useful for those who deserve it and need it. It is just a little something that we can do to help our soldiers. Unlike this Texas heat we are accustomed to, the temperatures overseas can get bitterly cold.”
Swanberg started the crochet group with the help of Janet Burnett, the life enrichment coordinator at Buckner Villas, who she says is “a ball of fire with great ideas.” The crochet session is an opportunity for the ladies at Buckner Villas to make new friends, stay socially active and give back to society. Swanberg has been crocheting since her mother taught her in 1935 and she is happy to have started a group that enjoys this pastime.
“I joined the crochet group six months ago, though I’ve been crocheting all my life,” expressed Julia Treadway, an 86-year-old resident at Buckner Villas.“My mother taught me and I first started out making afghans. I have completed eight scarves so far and hope to complete another two or three before we send them off in August. Anything we can do for our military is worth doing, and at our age this is the perfect way for us to give back. We think they are our heroes. They put their lives on the line for us.”
The women are making earth-colored scarves for the men and women to wear underneath their uniforms. Many of the women continuously work on the scarves from their independent living residences. They hope that the scarves will let the soldiers know that they care about them, even though they have not actually met. The ladies will send the scarves off at the end of August to make sure they arrive by September.
“We are really proud of all the time and energy that these ladies have put into making scarves for the military,” said Doyle Antle, executive director at Buckner Villas.“We enjoy coordinating with the residents to create new social groups and volunteer opportunities. It has been a pleasure watching the crocheting group grow and make a difference.”