The Southern Ohio Survivors (SOS) group is a wonderful organization that offers help and support to area cancer survivors and their families. The organization works closely with the Adena Cancer Center to help those impacted by the disease.
One of the ways the group helps is to provide handmade hats and lap blankets for our patients. Earlier this year, SOS purchased a beautiful hutch for the Cancer Center in which to store the donated items.
“We wanted a nice way to display the items,” said Lynn Bunstine with SOS. “We had been giving them out as needed, and we thought the hutch was a great way to showcase the items.” Patients are encouraged to help themselves to the colorful pieces in the hutch; and the hats and lap blankets are
theirs to keep. The patients really appreciate being able to have something to keep them warm during
therapy, and they often remark at the beautiful work that goes into the colorful garments.
All of the items are made by volunteers. While many may associate crocheting with something their grandmother did, the majority of the volunteers come from a place that may surprise you, the
Chillicothe Correctional Facility. More than 70 inmates belong to a group at CCI known as “The Chain Stitch Champions.” The group, which is considered a privilege for inmates to join, was started just over two years ago. “By bringing this project to CCI a lot of them are motivated and able to pay it
forward,” says Todd Helmick, CCI social worker. “It’s a win-win cause. They get to provide a community service, plus it helps people dealing with cancer.”
Since the program began in 2012, CCI inmates have crocheted more than 1,400 hats and 300 blankets.
The Chain Stitch Champions is one of the more popular organizations at CCI. Todd says many inmates will come and ask how they can learn to crochet. He refers them to a member of the group who will take the time to teach them, and they can come back to the group when they are ready to start crocheting. Todd issues each member yarn to make their projects and they get more yarn when they are finished. “They just do wonderful work, sometimes I can’t keep up and don’t have enough yarn,” he says. “Their work is so colorful, the blankets, their ideas, the designs, it keeps them very busy.”
All of the yarn used for the hats and blankets is donated and taken to the prison, and an SOS member picks up the items when they are complete to restock the hutch.
“I think the cause is really important to the inmates,” says Warden Assistant Amy Hamilton. “Many of them have been touched by cancer in their families, and it means a lot for them to help out.”
Todd adds the inmates take great pride in their work, “Many of them will come to me when they have family visit and will ask if they can show them their most recent work.”
SOS is always looking for volunteers to crochet, and they are especially looking for donations of soft, unused yarn. For more information about volunteering or how you can donate yarn, call Southern
Ohio Survivors at (740) 851-7057.