Serving a tight-knit community: Waupun Christian group helps many people, needs

February 9, 2019

WAUPUN — They’re doing God’s work, one stitch at a time.

The Holy Stitches knitting and crocheting group meets at St. Joseph’s Church, 118 W. Main St., on the first Tuesday (soon to be expanded to include the third Tuesday) of each month. On those days, 15-20 Christian women from throughout the area sit down, grab a ball of yarn and turn it into an item that can be given to people with a variety of needs.

Recipients include the elderly, new mothers, children, people suffering from trauma, dementia patients and plenty of others.

A knitting and crocheting group has been active for a long time, although it was originally more about fellowship than service. Holy Stitchers formed about a decade ago with a larger purpose to serve the needs of area residents both young and old.

Members from other churches — or no church at all — are welcome. The only prerequisite is a desire to share Christian charity. The Rev. John Radetski usually starts each meeting with a prayer, but volunteers are not obliged to participate.

“There’s not a whole lot of preaching going on,” Radetski said. “I like to stop in, get a cup of coffee, and show some support for our wonderful volunteers.”

Radetski has been at St. Joseph’s for 2½ years and is proud of the group and what it is doing.

“This is one of the delightful surprises I discovered here in the course of learning about the parish,” he said. “We’re happy to host this group in our facility. When people in bigger cities learn about what they’re doing here, they’re amazed — and they should be. We’re eager to welcome more people, and to spread the word about this group’s accomplishments.”

Holy Stitches member Terri Main said no pressure is put on the group to produce, although requests for items have soared over the past several years.

“Members of the group don’t have to meet any demands,” Main said. “They just come in and do what they want, whether they like making baby items or whatever. We just come in, socialize, make things and donate them to the charities we want to support.”

Requests do come in, however, and group members try to satisfy them. Their most recent donation was 55 lap robes to be part of a “welcome” package for the residents of the recently completed Waupun Christian Home.

Demand is especially high for “twiddle” or “activity” muffs, which were first developed for dementia patients at hospitals in Oxford, England.

“These provide stimulation through color and texture and have items attached such as small toys, beads, ribbons, bells, etc.,” Main said. “Our muffs are included in care packages sent out by a local organization to families of newly diagnosed dementia patients. We also supply 15 counties in southern Wisconsin. We find that the organizations we donate to are extremely thankful as the muffs are very expensive — $25 to $50 — to purchase.”

Especially grateful recipients are the Dodge and Fond du Lac counties’ aging and disability resource centers, which receive twiddle muffs in large numbers. Each muff takes between 6-8 hours to complete.

The group doesn’t charge for anything. Raw materials are donated and group members are always looking for items to use in their creations.

“We buy very little,” said group President Heidi Antoni. “Some of our members are especially talented at finding materials for little or no cost.”

A list of 2018 donations includes nearly 300 muffs, 21 shawls, 28 lap robes and dozens of baby items, hats, scarves and other items given out by members of the group. Among those unnumbered totals are two large containers of hats, mittens and scarves and another large container of baby items.

“We’re a small group, but we’re very active,” Main said. “In 2018, we donated several thousands of dollars’ worth of items. If anyone is interested in joining us, we invite them to come on down and join us.”

The group always welcomes donations of yarn, cash for buying materials and other items. For more information, email territom53963@yahoo.com or call 920-324-4171.

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