PASCO — Thanks to Project Warm-Up, more than 300 blankets, hats and baby clothes will keep needy Tri-Citians warm.
Donations began flooding in soon after New Year's Day, and volunteers immediately began knitting, crocheting and sewing.
That means more scarves, gloves and lap robes will be given this year to children and clients served by agencies such as the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, Grace Clinic and the Benton-Franklin Health District.
Holli Calder-Cox, the project director, said help poured in after a public plea in early January for supplies including yarn, fleece and flannel. Most volunteers can't afford to buy the supplies for all the warm items they make.
"I am so impressed by the generosity of this community," she said.
Project Warm-Up essentially was out of materials after the program spent almost all year homeless.
The all-volunteer program was housed at the Benton Franklin Volunteer Center, but the nonprofit closed in January 2011, and Calder-Cox said the group lost its space.
In October, it was taken in by another nonprofit, Community Action Connections, or CAC, at 720 W. Court St., Pasco. CAC was finishing a remodel of its building and that opened up space, allowing Project Warm-up to have an office where Calder-Cox and her volunteers store items and hold work parties to sort the blankets, baby sweaters and scarves they make.
Packages from New York, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Oregon surprised the volunteers, she said.
Since January, the group has received tons of notions, yards of fleece and enough yarn to keep knitting needles and crochet hooks busy for about two years, Calder-Cox said. Flannel was one item volunteers didn't receive in abundance.
Cabinets are full, and volunteers were running out of space until they moved some supplies into storage, she said.
They have been able to make red, white and blue hats for area veterans and purple items including baby caps and blankets as part of the Period of PURPLE Crying, an effort to educate parents about shaken baby syndrome, she said.
And for the first time, Calder-Cox said Project Warm-Up has cash to buy supplies. They have received about $1,500.
"We have never had money to work with," she said.
More volunteers have joined the ranks, bolstering the group to about 60, Calder-Cox said. One woman gave 40 blankets and 112 hats when she first arrived.
Calder-Cox said she enjoys seeing someone waiting in line for food at an area food bank wearing a hat made by the volunteers or a baby wrapped in one of their blankets.
It is such a blessing for a small group to be able to supply so much happiness for those in need, she said.
For more information, call 509-545-4042.