Windsong School families knitting together community one blanket at a time

Apr. 2—Kindergarten students at the private Windsong School in Spokane first learn how to finger-knit. They gain further knitting skills in other grade levels.

In late 2021, two parent leaders decided to loop in that knitting theme — both in a school fundraiser and as a way to strengthen the Windsong community's bonds.

Kristin Freeze, a school parent group co-coordinator with Amber Jensen, said Jensen brought up the idea for the school's "Hearts and Hands" knit-a-thon, with teams of mostly parents and some students creating 25 knitted squares to craft one blanket.

Multiple blankets then go to a child-centered need in the community, while the project also raises money because people make donation pledges per square to benefit the school.

Last year, the group's blankets went to patients at Providence Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. This year's project wrapped up in March, with 10 blankets gifted to go to babies enrolled at Go Light Our World (GLOW) Early Learning Center. The GLOW site, next door to Lumen High School, mainly serves teen parents at Lumen who need that child care in order to complete their education.

"We decided about mid-pandemic that our parent community really needed to be able to get back together," Freeze said.

"We thought, this knit-a-thon actually fits, because the community really needs to get knitted back together — we've been forced apart with all the shutdowns and protocols. We needed to raise the money, and thirdly, we really needed to knit ourselves into the greater Spokane community. Not a lot of people know about us."

Knit-a-thon members this year formed 10 teams and began on squares in February. On Wednesday, Katie Jessop, GLOW center executive director, received their blankets at the group's "cast off party."

Jessop said the blankets will be given out over time as Lumen students enroll babies or children. The child care center is licensed for children from birth to 12 years. About 60% of the center's children are those of Lumen High School parents.

The blankets will do more than add warmth, she said.

"We decided to do this because teen parents tend to be overlooked by the general population, and they tend to be a little bit judged by the general population," Jessop said.

"They're generally really great moms and dads who need extra support because they're still growing up alongside their children. Usually, they say that having babies changed their lives or even saved their lives. They're motivated to finish school and get good jobs or go to college and be on the right track to do right by their children.

"We all need help and support as parents. We're just there to surround them with love and care, and these blankets are a physical representation of that."

Jessop said she has a 10-year-old who went to kindergarten at Windsong and learned to knit. For Jessop as a mom, the hobby never took.

"My 10-year-old tried to teach me, over and over, and I didn't have the patience for it," she said. "These are people who have taken hours and hours of their lives to put love, care and kindness into something that these teenagers and their children will have forever as a keepsake of that love, kindness and patience."

The knit-a-thon is similar to a read-a-thon or run-a-thon. Instead of pledges per lap or page, the Windsong teams ask for pledges toward squares of a blanket. At $1 per square, and 25 squares per blanket, donors could offer $25 or go higher.

Freeze said the school group is closing in on its $20,000 fundraising goal but donations are still being accepted.

"People know that they're pledging for the knitters to be knitting this beautiful blanket together that's going eventually to benefit somebody else," Freeze said."We're making money for our school and paying it forward to something else at the same time."