Saturday, February 13, 2016

Love Scarf Project Valentine's Delivery at City of Hope

It was a most glorious Valentine's delivery on Friday, 2/12 at the City of Hope.  It's most convenient for the hospital for us to do weekday deliveries so that meant Friday delivery this year.

And look who greeted us!  Edwin and Lauren, activities directors at COH, decorated the wagons they lend us for deliveries!!!  Signs, a teddy bear, and even ribbons on the wagon handles!  Such love and joy met us outside upon our arrival!!!

Here are some of the crew -- Susie, Blayre, Jim, Maureen and Annaly.  Blayre has been crocheting for us for a few years.  Jim crocheted his first scarf for our project and magically the yarn he used for his scarf was used by someone else on the project who knitted a hat of the same yarn.  Jim was actually able to make sure that one of the patients got both!!!  Magic!  And Blayre and Jim's R2D2 hats were so loved and appreciated by so many they may crochet some for 2017!

Lovely Annaly has helped us a few different years.  

Maureen came for the first time this year!  She introduced me to Robbie.  She was a teacher until just last year and could never come to delivery so we were blessed blessed blessed to have her join us this year.  Robbie visited her in a poignant, colorful, beautiful dream the night before delivery to just add extra magic to the delivery day.

And Susie has -- for years -- saved the project by bringing I'm sure over 75 scarves and hats each year.  We need a ton of scarves and hats and I am always concerned we won't have enough.  Susie is one of our major angels who herself knits for several other causes as well -- veterans, homeless, new moms/infants, and more.  Angel extraordinaire!

Other angels without whom we just couldn't make this happen:

  • Mo Charles -- inspires many knitters and always comes through with several big bags full.  
  • Nara Dunkerson -- the same thing -- several bags full of deliciously love-filled scarves every single year since the very beginning of the Love Scarf Project.
  • Carrie Lundell -- Also since the beginning, Carrie continues to spread the word in her community!  A new donor, her dear friend's mom, Bonnie, donated a huge bag of love-filled creations for babies and adults.
  • Sharon Euler -- oh my god she has already started on 2017!  She knits up a storm all year long and her very soft hats are so very loved and seem to magically fit whoever tries one on!
This very intricate, gorgeous shawl by Alexandra (sent from New York) was given to this extremely appreciative patient who was so profoundly moved by the delivery.  She was starting to cry but then shifted to this most joyous grateful state.  She rolled her IV poll into the bathroom to look in the mirror.  It was magic seeing her look in the mirror.

Shannon gave her a hug.  Shannon is our master hugger who offers everyone the best, warmest hugs of all.  

We always give scarves and hats to the loved ones who are with the patients for Valentine's Day gift.  Also we ask if they have loved ones coming on Valentine's Day who might appreciate a gift.  This couple was so so happy that she got a hat/scarf too!  

We had a big delivery crew this year so everyone had their own magical stories. I will just share two that I have that are emblematic of how the love put into the scarves truly does make it to the patients.

At one point in the middle of a flurry of finding the perfect scarves for a patient, someone beckoned me because a patient wanted to say "thank you" to someone.  I was chosen to be the recipient.  I went into the room but didn't recognize the patients.  Sometimes, if the patients don't feel up to having visitors the nurse asks them their favorite color and we just give the perfect scarf/hat to the nurse to deliver.  In this case, it became obvious that the reason we didn't see this patient was that she and her mom spoke very little English.  She was in her early 20's and her mom likely in her late 40's.  The mother seemed more out of sorts -- out of her element -- than even the daughter, who seemed hunkered down for this battle, having clearly already fought some skirmishes and won.  I sat close to the mom who hung on my every broken Spanish word.  Luckily I spoke enough to find out that what they both wanted to know was what motivated us to do this and who all the knitters were.  I told them that mostly it was friends and friends of friends of friends, and so on.  They were tickled pink by this idea.  I told them that everyone who donated crocheted and knitted with love for the patients, intending that that love reach them through the scarves and hats and make them feel loved even when they were alone.  They loved it.

I then met the mother of a patient who was not well enough to receive us.  We gave  scarves and hats to her and her daughter.  The daughter, it turned out, was also a doctor. The mother was a cancer survivor and very clearly having a hard time. I learned from Shannon, who has delivered with us several times, to better read when someone could use a hug.   I asked if I could give the mom a hug and she started sobbing in my arms, explaining in broken English that she had gotten through her own cancer with relative ease, that she was a warrior, "but is different."  She received the love with an open heart and went back into her daughter's room to yet again support her as best she could.  She looked a little like she was going back into battle.  

The loved ones sometimes need us even more than the patients.  This delivery day it seemed especially true.  

These scarves and hats really make a difference.  If you have gotten this far in this post, and if you are inspired, please spread the word about the Love Scarf Project.  We also deliver in NYC at Columbia Presbyterian.  And at City of Hope we always run out of people's first choice colors, so we can ALWAYS use more donations.  So please pass on the word to your friends, colleagues, family members who knit or crochet, who might want to make a difference.