Volunteers Knit for Charity

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Astrid Sciolini of Costa Mesa (left) and Judy Treble of Tustin knit and crochet items in Macy’s at Fashion Island on Saturday for Spa Gregorie’s sixth annual Knit One, Cure Too knit-a-thon event for the Orange County affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. — All photos by Sara Hall
Astrid Sciolini of Costa Mesa (left) and Judy Treble of Tustin knit and crochet items in Macy’s Fashion Island on Saturday for Spa Gregorie’s sixth annual Knit One, Cure Too knit-a-thon event for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Orange County.
— All photos by Sara Hall

A common goal and a shared hobby brought men and women, young and old, experts and beginners all together on Saturday at Macy’s in Fashion Island.

Spa Gregorie’s sixth annual Knit One, Cure Too knit-a-thon public event was held Saturday and more than 50 knitters and crocheters participated throughout the day.

The group created and sold scarves, socks, caps and baby items, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Orange County affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Survivors and the their families were among the crowd of knitters.

About 300 items were on sale in Macy’s on Saturday and many are still available at Spa Gregorie’s locations.
About 300 items were on sale in Macy’s on Saturday and many are still available at Spa Gregorie’s locations.

“It is awesome, amazing, generous, (evokes) gratitude, selfless. So many words come to mind, ” said Susan G. Komen volunteer and seven month survivor, Mary Grappin of Irvine. “It’s nothing but positive energy.”

Grappin just got involved with the organization and the knit-a-thon was her first event. Susan G. Komen has been good for support, she said, and they do good work. Being a survivor, she became inclined to volunteer for the organization.

“My goal is if I can help one person get through it, I’m (happy),” Grappin said. “I want people to know they can survive.”

Approximately 300 knitted and crocheted items, priced from $5 to $40, were available, including a batch of scarves created before hand by the Girl Scouts Troop 308 in Laguna Beach.

The event raised about $600, with only about 10 percent of the items purchased and the rest are now available at Spa Gregorie’s locations.

It was an amazing turnout and a great day, said Vernelle Blackwell of Westminster, a volunteer for Susan G. Komen.

Blackwell, an Irvine Company employee, got involved with the organization seven years ago by volunteering for Race for the Cure. She has been involved with the knit-a-thon every year it has been held.

It’s a very unique fundraiser, she added.

“Everybody loves a knit scarf,” Blackwell said, and purchasing one is “for a good cause.”

Orelia Steinhardt of Irvine and Carol Shehab of Newport Beach knit while they chat during the event.
Orelia Steinhardt of Irvine and Carol Shehab of Newport Beach knit while they chat during the event.

It’s high quality, one-of-a-kind and made with love, Grappin and Blackwell explained.

It’s also about educating the public, Blackwell added.

“These women are great knitters,” Blackwell said.

Most of them create the items throughout the year and then donate the items to the cause.

“The ladies come for (a few) hours, some stay all day,” Blackwell said

“We appreciate all their help,” Grappin added.

Some of the knitters are returning to the cause, but many are first time volunteers.

Diane Magrina of Laguna Niguel works on a project as Orelia Steinhardt of Irvine and Carol Shehab of Newport Beach knit in the background.
Diane Magrina of Laguna Niguel works on a project as Orelia Steinhardt of Irvine and Carol Shehab of Newport Beach knit in the background.

Volunteer knitters and crocheters Diane Magrina of Laguna Niguel, Orelia Steinhardt of Irvine, Carol Shehab of Newport Beach all participated for the first time in the event on Saturday. They all agreed they would return next year.

Magrina was knitting in honor of two friends who are survivors, she said.

“They’re both brave, brave ladies,” she said. “Fabulous women.”

The three women are longtime knitters and made baby items, hats, scarves, bags and more for the event.

Shehab said she always knits for a cause, including Susan G. Komen and about 4,000 caps she has made for soldiers overseas. Both are very worthy causes, she added.

Steinhardt and Magrina have both knitted for other causes as well, including Knots of Love, caps for cancer patients, and an organization for single moms and their babies.

“I like this a lot,” Magrina said. “I would do this again in a heartbeat. I met some really interesting ladies and I think this has been a really fun Saturday afternoon.”

Judy Treble of Tustin works on an item at the event.
Judy Treble of Tustin works on an item at the event.

Knitting together with others can be very therapeutic, the ladies agreed.

Astrid Sciolini of Costa Mesa and Judy Treble of Tustin were also on hand creating knitted and crocheted items.

The two met Saturday morning and became fast friends. They planned on getting together later and knitting together.

“It’s interesting to talk to others and see what knitting does for them,” Shehab said.

There are psychological and health benefits, she continued.

Steinhardt said knitting helps keep her 92-year-old mother sharp.

“Her mind is wonderful. She’s using her mind all the time,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

The longtime love and dedication many knitters have for the hobby is part of what sparked the idea for the event.

Longtime Newport Beach resident, Kathy Leek, who does public relations for the spa, started the event six years ago.

Kathy Leek of Spa Gregorie's demonstrates the many ways to wear a scarf.
Kathy Leek of Spa Gregorie’s demonstrates the many ways to wear a scarf.

Spa Gregorie’s does a lot of fundraising for charities, including Komen, Leek said, and six years ago she wanted to start something new. A unique fundraiser that could involve a specific community: Knitters and cocheters. As a knitter and crocheter herself, Leek already had some connections with people and businesses that could help and was determined to find more.

“I started it because I could get the word out to these gals,” Leek said.

Trendsetter Yarns and Strands and Stitches in Laguna Beach both made donations for the event this year.

“In everyone’s life there is an opportunity to give back,” Leek said. “For some of them (the volunteer knitters), this is their way… (They) beautify America, one scarf at a time.”

The knit-a-thon raises about $5,000 each year, Leek said.

The event also promotes Spa Gregorie’s as not just a business, but a contributor to the community, Leek said.

She is thankful that the knit-a-thon has been so successful over the years.

“There are a lot of givers out there,” Leek said, “and for that, we’re grateful.”

 

For more information, visit spagregories.com or call Kathy Leek at (949) 422-0414.

Nancy Bigelow of Laguna Beach, a five year survivor, bought two pairs of socks at the event.
Nancy Bigelow of Laguna Beach, a five year survivor, bought two pairs of socks at the event.
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