Why Debbie Macomber knits for kids

Best-selling author Debbie Macomber is the spokesperson for our Knit for Kids program. Today, read how it all began.

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Over the years, I’ve been asked how it is I became involved with World Vision’s Knit for Kids program. This is the point where I suggest you grab a cup of coffee, put up your feet, and settle into a comfy chair while I tell you a story.

It all started a long time ago in a land far away — I’ve always wanted to write that. But in this case, it’s true! It all started innocently enough with a dear friend by the name of Joan McKeon. Like myself, Joan is an avid knitter and yarn hoarder. God put it on her heart to knit for children in Kurdistan. She knew that the winters were bitterly cold in that part of the world, and she couldn’t bear the thought of any child going cold and hungry.

Grace holds her baby, Cherapa, in a Knit for Kids blanket outside of the Namaran clinic, which is supported by World Vision in Kenya. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Lindsey Minerva)

Joan became a one-woman knitting machine. She found, with practice, that she could knit in the dark. Her knitting went everywhere with her, including church, the theater, any time she was in the car — no worries, her husband drove. Within a few months and with the help of several other knitters, she amassed literally hundreds of sweaters, hats, and other items. At that time, the Knit for Kids program was coordinated through the Guideposts organization and distributed by World Vision.

When World Vision heard about Joan and her passion for kids and knitting, they invited Joan and her husband to visit Kurdistan to distribute the sweaters. With barely a qualm, Joan and her husband Bob agreed to accompany a team from World Vision. The trip was life-changing for Joan and Bob in much the same way that my own trip to Kenya was.

On her return, Joan gave a report of her experiences in Kurdistan at a Guideposts event. It was there that I met Joan for the first time and heard her passion for warming the bodies and the souls of children around the world through knitting and crocheting. When Joan spoke, she emphasized why giving a hand-knit item to a child is so important.

It’s far more than wrapping the yarn around the needle or a crochet hook. It’s everything else that goes into the making of the sweater. It’s the prayers for that child, the love, the effort, the time, and the talent that gets wrapped around those needle points. It’s a way of letting an unnamed child as close as your neighbor or as far away as Kurdistan know that someone is thinking of them. Someone, a stranger, cares enough to make sure that they are warm, loved, and special.

Debbie and her family meet with a support group for people with HIV in Kenya, to whom they gave sweaters knitted by Knit for Kids volunteers to distribute within the community. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Lindsey Minerva)

Eventually, Guideposts handed off the Knit for Kids program to World Vision. Joan’s health had declined, although she didn’t let that slow down her knitting efforts. World Vision approached me and asked if I’d be willing to step into Joan’s very big shoes. (She actually has small feet, but that’s beside the point.) Because of my own love of knitting, I accepted. And that, my friends, was how it all got started.

And they lived happily ever after — I’ve always wanted to write that, too.

Debbie Macomber is the best-selling author of This Matter of Marriage and dozens of other novels with more than 200 million copies of her books in print. Find out more about Debbie and her books, and learn more about World Vision’s Knit for Kids program.

Join Debbie in keeping children warm this winter. Download a knitting pattern.

Or choose a child to sponsor in Kenya.


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