Local Knitting Brigade Helps People Stay Warm

The Glen Cove Gurdwara Knitting Brigade celebrated 10 years. (Photo courtesy The Sikh Coalition)

Glen Cove Gurdwara’s Knitting Brigade celebrates 10th anniversary

A group of passionate Sikh community members meets biweekly to knit and crochet blankets, baby clothes, hats and mittens to donate to veterans, hospitals, group homes, and most recently, people impacted by the war in Ukraine.
On Aug. 11, the Knitting Brigade celebrated their 10th anniversary with a celebration at the Glen Cove Gurdwara.

Amy Walia, the founder of the Knitting Brigade, with quilts.
(Photo courtesy the Sikh Coalition)

Amy Walia, the founder of the Knitting Brigade, was inspired to start it 10 years ago when her son recommended that she put her knitting talents to good use. She formed the club with the Gurdwara’s priest’s wife, Charanjeet Kaur. It became very popular among senior women.
“There were two good things which came out of this one is; you know, seniors were excited that we’re going to meet the group every Friday,” said Jasleen Sabharwal, a member and active volunteer at the Glen Cove Gurdwara. “And then they put that time into not only talking about how the week went or discussing the family, but they would also knit together. And then once the goods were done they would deliver it to their veterans homes and nursing homes. Sometimes for infants, doing baby blankets.”
Walia also encourages members to stretch and work on their balance. Members enjoy celebrating each other’s birthdays during meetings.
“I know seniors, they go through these phases of depression,” Sabharwal said. “Even though they’re living in a family, there’s times when there should be a me time. And the temple has given them that space, where they come to meet Fridays and have a tea and snacks after they’re finished. So it gives them a chance to do some philanthropic events. We call it Seva, which is written in our holy book, that human beings’ first responsibilities is towards other human beings. If they’re distressed, they should always help out, they should drop everything and just be the first person to help. So they’re kind of upkeeping that, using their own money to buy the woolens… and whatever they knit, they donate.”
Walia explained that when the group first started, there were about 30 to 32 members, but some unfortunately passed away. Members also stopped returning because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m trying to see if I can enroll some other people,” Walia said. “We still meet twice a month, second and fourth Friday of the month, in the afternoons in the temple, in Glen Cove. And we need them to crochet and it’s like a social group, we talk about other things.”
In their initiative to donate blankets to people impacted by the war in Ukraine, they brought over 300 blankets to St. Patrick’s Church in Glen Cove.
“When this war started, I saw on the news how people were hurting and how they needed stuff,” Walia said. “So I made a few phone calls to churches… [St. Patrick’s] said they would take the stuff and then I went and delivered, like 300 to 400 blankets to them.”
Walia explained that this initiative was a little different than ones in the past, because usually she and fellow Knitting Brigade members hand the goods to the people that will receive them.
“I want to hand them to the person they’re meant for,” Walia said. “If we go to a nursing home, we see people in a wheelchair, we’ll just hand it to them and say it’s a gift for you. We don’t make a big deal… I went to a church one time, more than one time in Hempstead… They loved us [because our group] makes beautiful stuff. And the person in charge said she’ll take it and I had to refuse. ‘No, sorry you will not just take that.’ You know, it’s hard work.”
When asked what the next mission for the Knitting Brigade will be, Walia said the group will probably give veterans blankets for Veteran’s Day.
“They are grateful, they are appreciative,” Walia said of the people who receive the knitted goods. “But other than that, I don’t expect anything. It is really something I wanted to do. And then you’ve got a good bunch of friends who do it with me and that’s about it. We’re not looking for any accolades or anything, you know, it is what it is. We enjoy doing it. And it’s a good cause. That’s all.”

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