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Knitting enthusiasts gather to make items for children in Burundi, Nicaragua

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A knit fish. A multicolored doll. A small blanket.

It was a labor of love for the volunteers at the Knit-In event Saturday at Immaculate Heart Central School, and it may mean the world to an impoverished child thousands of miles away.

About 20 knitters, representing a wide range of ages and knitting experience, circled together in the school’s cafeteria to work on their projects. This year’s event was the fifth time it has been held, as part of the school’s Respect Life Initiative.

When finished, the volunteers’ creations will be sent to children in the Batwa tribe of Burundi, along with orphanages in Nicaragua.

One of the knitters, Lisa O. Winkler, a teacher at the school, joined her friend Laurie T. Cavallario in making a blanket buddy, which combined a knitted rabbit face design with a blanket.

Although she first learned to knit as a young girl from her grandmother, Mrs. Winkler said she started slowly Saturday, restarting her work six times.

“Now I have something that it looks like I can work with it,” she said.

The wide range of shapes, colors and sizes was a way for the knitters to show how much care and thought went into the designs, Mrs. Winkler said.

“You can put your own spin on it,” she said. “That little bit goes into it and makes it even more special.”

Making her blanket buddy made her realize how fortunate she is, she said.

“We need to do for others, and not take for granted even the smallest thing,” Mrs. Winkler said.

The young recipients of the knitted goods inspired Jean S. Sturtz, who was fashioning a large teddy bear with a combination of blue, brown and lavender acrylic yarn.

“They’ll be thrilled, since they don’t have it,” she said.

Though it was her first time at the event, Ms. Sturtz is very experienced in knitting, having knitted for decades, dating back to when she was a 10-year-old making squares for her 4-H group.

A common thread for those who came out Saturday was their willingness to help. Last year, a total of 388 knitted items were donated.

“They’re very selfless,” said Patricia L. Minter-Powell, one of the organizers. “They’re not about themselves.”

Seeing a sign for the event Saturday, Anne M. Easton, of Watertown, offered a 45-by-60-inch lap quilt she was in the process of finishing to the school to auction to support the Respect Life initiative.

Although the knitting event wrapped up in a few hours, there will be plenty of work to do before the items are sent away. The volunteers have until June 1 to finish their work.

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