December 2, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson

Bonnie Center (right) knits, crochets and also teaches others who want to learn.

More than 25 volunteers gather twice monthly at the Montgomery County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service to knit and crochet items for hundreds of residents in the county through a project called Warm Up Montgomery County.

“It’s a group coming together with no rules, no regulations and no membership dues, yet they appear here every two weeks,” said Peggy Powell, Montgomery County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. “They are always happy. They enjoy the social aspect, but it’s the essence of what Extension ought to be about in that it combines education, service and social interaction. They share patterns, information and recipes, but the greatest thing is that they give their time and caring.”

At each half-day session, volunteers knit and crochet hats and afghans for cancer and kidney dialysis patients at the local hospitals and nursing homes. They also make caps for newborns and bereavement blankets for stillborn infants at Mary Chiles Hospital. Since the project’s inception in 2001, the volunteers have made and delivered nearly 3,000 items. They have also collected more than 325 new men’s baseball caps for the local cancer center.

Volunteer and retired school cook Anna Mason has been crocheting for about 25 years. She said the Extension project is special to her.

“When they approached me about coming to do this it just gave me joy because I could do something I love to do and help people in the process,” she said.

Bonnie Center has been crocheting and knitting nearly all her life. She not only creates items for the Warm Up project, she also teaches other volunteers how to knit and crochet. For her, the biggest reward is in knowing she made a difference in someone’s life.

Anna Mason crocheting

Anna Mason has been crocheting for many years and is one of the fastest in the bunch.

“When I am out in public and meet someone and they tell me they received a blanket or something and want to give me a hug, that’s my reward,” she said.

Many of the items are distributed at the Montgomery Cancer Center. Jessica Heath, office coordinator for the center, said she has seen the happiness handmade items bring to the patients.

“Patients are very grateful that someone would take the time and care enough to do something of that nature,” she said. “They are very surprised that they don’t have to pay a fee. Overall, it lifts their spirits. A patient’s spirit and attitude is very important in their treatment. We just can’t express to them (volunteers) how much it’s appreciated.”

Powell said the project is funded entirely by donations, and if anyone is interested in donating money or materials, contact her at the Montgomery County Extension office at (859) 498-8741.


Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Peggy Powell 859-498-8741