Many years ago, best-selling author Debbie Macomber attended a dinner her church hosted. The room was filled with several tables comprised of four to six people each. Waiters brought food to each table. Some tables received just rice while other diners became overwhelmed with all the amazing dishes placed in front of them.
“It was such a great object lesson because the people who had one dish of rice were looking at the table that was covered with food,” Debbie says. “When you are so blessed, there’s a need to reach out and share.”
Eventually, the people at the tables loaded with food invited others to join them.
“It was back in the 70s, but I’ve never forgotten that,” Debbie says. “Now, I’m sitting at that table, and World Vision is the transporter between that table loaded with food to those tables loaded with none.”
Knitting to help
Debbie helps move the figurative food by sponsoring children and championing World Vision’s Knit for Kids program, in which volunteers knit blankets and winter clothes for World Vision to distribute in cold areas where it works.
Debbie began knitting when she a girl. Learning to read was a struggle because she was dyslexic, but one summer, she begged her mother to learn to knit. “She took me to the local yarn store, and they taught me to knit, and it was a life-changing experience for me,” Debbie says.
Through knitting, she learned comprehension skills, math skills, concentration in studying the patterns. As she learned and perfected her new hobby, her self esteem and confidence grew. She’s never set the needles down.
Many years later, at a national cabinet meeting for an organization that previously ran Knit for Kids, her friend conducted a workshop about how children lacked winter clothes in below-freezing temperatures. She spoke of the joy they experienced in receiving a sweater.
Debbie was enthralled, and when World Vision later took over the program, she wanted to be involved, saying, “I wanted to share that same enthusiasm that she brought to it.”
The children’s joy her friend spoke about, Debbie has now seen firsthand when she visited Kenya — yes, it was cold in Kenya. “You think any country that’s on the equator won’t need sweaters, but we were 8,000 feet above sea level, so it was cold,” she says about her trip.
While there, she had the honor of giving hand-knitted sweaters to a family with seven children, and she felt overjoyed to see the children’s faces light up.
“The next time I saw the mother, she had one of the sweaters on — she was touched too,” Debbie says. “I knit her a sweater when I got back so she would have her very own.”
Knit one, bless two
Right now, Debbie is leading a “Knit one, bless two” campaign to get 32,000 blankets knitted for Syrian refugees and other vulnerable children.
“With all the news about the refugees, the fact that [some of] these blankets are going to the refugees should encourage people because you see the pictures, and our hearts just bleed for them,” Debbie says. “This is something tangible that we can do.”
“I can knit one, but I’m going to need help with the 31,999 that are left,” Debbie says with a laugh.
She says it’s important for people to know that while you knit one blanket for one person, you’re actually blessing two people in the process, thus the campaign name. “While I’m knitting for someone else, I’m giving a part of myself to someone else,” she says.
“It’s my time, my talent, the expense I put into the yarn, and I’m getting so much more back. I saw that in Kenya. I got that joy back. I wish every person who had knit could have seen the joy on those kids faces — every minute was worth it.”
Even though most people will never have the opportunity to meet the recipients of their knitted items, Debbie can assure them that the child receiving the item can feel the knitter’s love.
“It’s just so important that every knitter knows that what they are doing is love,” Debbie says. “As an author, I can you that when I write something, if I cry, the reader will cry. If I laugh, the reader will laugh. If I put my heart on the page, it will reach to the heart of the reader, and it’s the same with knitting. When we stitch with love, when that child wraps that blanket around them, they are feeling your love, and they are feeling God’s love.”