Unsung Heroes: Mama Bears do warm work

The Mama Bear group who get together regularly to knit for homeless shelters and other nonprofits.
Photo by Joe Johnston 12-10-10
The Mama Bear group who get together regularly to knit for homeless shelters and other nonprofits. Photo by Joe Johnston 12-10-10 The Tribune

One stitch at a time, the Mama Bears have made the holidays a little warmer — figuratively and literally — for some young San Luis Obispo County families struggling to get on their feet.

The Mama Bears, a group of around a dozen knitters, meet weekly at a San Luis Obispo yarn shop. When the knitting circle began, the women worked on personal projects — blankets, sweaters, scarves and the like. Last year, they decided to set those aside and spend time knitting for charity. Starting in the summer, they began making scarves, hats, gloves and stuffed bears that were then donated to the Prado Day Center at the end of the year.

It’s since become the group’s practice to devote several months to a charity project.

“It’s a wonderful group of women who come in,” said Anne Gough, who owns Yarns at the Adobe in San Luis Obispo. “Half the year, they knit for themselves, and the other half of the year, they knit for someone else.

Hopefully, we show that we care about the community.”

Gough provides the space where the knitters gather — when the weather is nice, they use an outdoor patio — and she donates some of the yarn for the charity projects. Other members also contribute from their stashes of yarn or donate money to buy supplies, so there’s plenty to go around.

This year, the women knitted blankets with heart motifs that went to Womenade, a San Luis Obispo County group that provides a variety of emergency assistance to local families. The blankets are all destined for families with babies.

“They are going to include them in gift baskets during the holidays, as a little extra,” said Lois Crotser, a Mama Bear regular.

Of course, Mama Bears isn’t all business — it’s also about friendship.

Along with the knitting, the women bond over munchies and talk about husbands, politics, recipes — you name it.

We should point out that this scenario is playing out in other communities, too; Mama Bears is by no means the only local organization where members turn their talents to a good cause.

There are groups of knitters, quilters, seamstresses and crafters throughout the county that take on similar projects. Some knit little hats for newborns at local hospitals; others make blankets for victims of abuse; still others are making scarves and helmet liners for those serving in the military. (Gough provides patterns for the helmet liners, and Yarns at the Adobe serves as a collection center for those who want to drop off completed items for service people.)

In this month of giving, we salute all these heartfelt efforts. We are proud to honor the Mama Bears — and others who put their knitting needles, sewing machines and quilt frames to good use in similar ways — as our unsung heroes for the month of December.

To Join mama bears

New members are welcome to join Mama Bears. The group meets at 11 a.m. every Friday at Yarns At The Adobe, 964 Chorro St., San Luis Obispo.

Editor's note:

This is another in a series of monthly editorials celebrating the unsung heroes in our community.

By highlighting individuals who unselfishly apply their energy and skills to lighten the burden of others, we hope, first, to offer these community heroes the appreciation they deserve; second, to let those who could use the help know of available resources; and third, to inspire others who are able to help in whatever way possible.

If you would like to nominate an unsung hero, contact us at letters@thetribunenews.com.