Project Warm Up volunteers deliver warmies to those in need

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Skip Motela, a volunteer with Catholic Charities, stops by The Center at the Park to pick up a hamper of handmade sweaters, hats and booties for people needing warm wear for the winter. Volunteers in the Walla Walla Valley knit the items year-round for Project Warm Up.

As winter gets going full force in Walla Walla, so does Project Warm Up.

It's the time of year when warmies -- knitted, sewn, quilted -- that are hand made year-round by local volunteers are given to people in need.

"We have 45 to 50 ladies who donate their time to help," said Loretta Cole, volunteer coordinator for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program project at The Center at the Park. With materials provided through grants from Pacific Power, knitters and quilters from around the Valley participate.

"This year we have just been so blessed with so many people responding," Cole said, adding that more are always welcome. "Last year we gave out more than 1,000 items."

The largest recipients for the items are the Salvation Army's Dress a Living Doll campaign for needy children and Catholic Charities.

Local hospitals, senior care facilities, the Christian Aid Center, Birthright, schools and hospice centers also distribute the gifts of warmth.

But in the current economy, when more families are facing job layoffs or homelessness and children may have to go without some clothing necessities, people in Project Warm Up strive to provide help where needed.

"This year we had one lady who made little sweaters for kids," Cole added. "We have about 20 we're going to take to kindergarten."

"This project is so neat," Cole said. "When you take those lap robes out to the nursing centers they just beam.

"Some of these people don't have anyone even visit them and they are just delighted to get something new."

For more information or to donate knitted and quilted items, call 509-527-3775.

Karlene Ponti can be reached at 509-526-8324 or karleneponti@wwub.com.

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