May 25, 2018
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Volunteer for project that salutes veterans

By Ardeana Hamlin, BDN Staff

Heather A. Bilodeau, Maine special project coordinator for HAP, e-mailed information that will be of interest to By Hand readers who enjoy knitting and crocheting for a cause:

“The Handmade Afghans to Thank Our Armed Forces Project, or HAP, has selected Togus VA Center in Augusta as one of four VA centers in the United States to benefit from HAP’s latest special project. HAP volunteers from across the country will knit or crochet hat and scarf sets and slippers for the VA centers to distribute to veterans who need them.”

HAP is “a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing comfort to America’s military men and women wounded in service to our country.”

HAP’s main objective is to provide handmade afghans to wounded military personnel. Volunteer knitters and crocheters from all 50 states contribute 6-inch-by-9-inch rectangles worked in smooth acrylic yarn. The rectangles are collected and brought to a scheduled HAP “Put Together Event” where more volunteers arrange the rectangles into colorful afghans. The designed afghans are then pinned together and crocheted into completed afghans at a later time by other volunteers. As many as 51 people may contribute to a single afghan.

HAP’s goal is to show each wounded service member that there are many people, including people with different views about the current wars, who appreciate the service member’s sacrifices for our country.

More than 1,800 afghans have been delivered to military hospitals since the organization’s inception in 2004.

Completed HAP afghans are mailed to 10 military hospitals including Craig Joint Theatre Hospital, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.

HAP’s special projects, such as the hat, scarf and slippers project, held about twice each year, extend the organization’s reach to veterans in need at VA centers around the country.

HAP is nonprofit, all-volunteer and entirely dependent on the generosity of its volunteers and other donations for materials and to cover costs, including postage to mail the completed afghans to the military hospitals. The organization was built on the concept that every bit helps, and everyone’s contribution, even a single 6-inch-by-9-inch rectangle, is valued.

Visit the Handmade Afghans Project Web site at for more information. The site includes a full listing of military hospitals that receive HAP afghans, full-color pictures of finished afghans, thank-you notes from military personnel who have received HAP afghans, and information as to how to get involved.

Information at the Web site states that HAP was founded by Deborah Starobin-Armstrong.

Volunteers include those from senior citizens centers, universities, libraries, churches, synagogues, schools and other organizations.

Each afghan includes a card that lists the first name and last initial of every known volunteer who worked on the project.

Donations of worsted-weight acrylic yarn are listed on the Wish List at the site.


ä Put yourself in stitches. The Unity Community Market will offer free workshops in quilting, felting, knitting and crocheting 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Unity Community Center, 32 School St. A yarn and fabric exchange will be part of the day’s activities. Attendees may bring their own needlework projects to work on.

Vendors at the event will offer knit goods, baked goods, locally grown beef and lamb, crafts, used books, jewelry, homemade soap, Mexican cocoa, products for moms and babies, woodenware, chutneys, jams and jellies.

A soup luncheon will be served at a cost of $3.

The event is sponsored by the Unity Barn Raisers, a nonprofit community betterment organization founded in 1996.

ä The exhibit “Fiber Arts of Hancock County” will be on display March 1-15 at the Northeast Harbor Library. Featured in the display are weaving, felting, knitting, basketry, fabric painting, rug braiding and piecework. Some of the items will be available for purchase. An opening reception will be held 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, March 11. Space is still available if other fiber artists want to add their work to the exhibit. For more details, call the library at 275-3333 on Monday, Thursday or Friday and ask for Judith.


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