Orchard Ridge knitters craft caps for homeless

By Ryan Cornell

WINCHESTER — The knitting group at the Village at Orchard Ridge had always been a fun place for residents to chat twice a week, but Rhoda Kriz thought they could turn that yarn into something even more constructive.

She asked her friend David Sovine, superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, if there was anything they could do to help the local schools.

Nine months, nearly 1,000 hours of work and more than 200 individually knitted pieces later, the 29-woman group unveiled its creations this week. An inventory of the completed items listed 61 sets of matching caps and scarves, 55 caps, 38 scarves, four cowls, three headbands and two pairs of mittens.

Kriz said Thursday that the caps, scarves and cowls are all in different colors, patterns and sizes, geared to fit snugly on the heads of kindergartners through high school seniors.

Pat Preston, unofficial chairwoman of the knitting group, also teaches reading programs to children as a tutor at Indian Hollow Elementary School. She said she’s expecting to see the results of the “Keeping Kids Warm” project soon.

“We might see some in the halls or getting on the buses,” she said.

Sovine estimated there to be about 150 homeless children in Frederick County. He said the schools have benefited from their partnership with the Winchester retirement community.

“Anytime we have citizens or residents giving back to those who are needy, it’s a huge success,” he said.

He said the office of student support services will be working directly with schools to find student needs.

Mitch Peeling, director of Frederick County student support services, said seven student support specialists are responsible for divvying up the knitted clothing.

“They know who the families are that it will be going to and will be distributing it as such,” he said, noting that half will be given to Winchester families and half to Frederick County families.

He said the clothing will be distributed to children shortly after Thanksgiving.

Kriz said she’s searching for more opportunities to help the community.

“We’re already looking for a new project when we start up again in January,” she said.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com