When Virginia Gallyer sees an unmet need in the community, she works to meet that need, even when it means helping to found a new charitable organization from the ground up.
In 2009, Gallyer saw that the patients of Dr. Frank Senacal needed hats, slippers and other knit items to keep them comfortable during their cancer treatments with the St. Anthony’s Hospital oncologist.
Gallyer, who had lost her husband to cancer 13 years earlier, contacted a few friends, including Cyndi Kelly, and together the women began scouring local thrift stores for yarn. They met to knit on a regular basis, and began donating their finished items.
It wasn’t long before word of the group spread, and Gallyer and Kelly soon had many eager knitters, as well as donated yarn. Their new group needed a name. Kelly’s mother suggested “Loving Hearts.” It stuck.
The next step was finding a location to meet and knit. Gallyer, a member of Key Peninsula WayPoint Church, asked pastor Tim Stobbe if room was available at the church. From the outset, Stobbe was happy to help, she said. Initially the group met in the church nursery but as their numbers grew, they moved to a larger room.
Today, there are about 25 members of Loving Hearts, 15 or so of whom meet twice a month at WayPoint Church to enjoy knitting and crocheting together. Others stop by during the meeting to pick up yarn and drop off finished items.
Last year, the group knit and crocheted 1,365 items. They were donated to a number of local charities, including Backpacks 4 Kids, CareNet, St. Anthony’s oncology department and Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. The largest share of their donations goes to Retsil Veterans Home in Port Orchard. Items donated to Retsil include prayer shawls, wheelchair bags, walker bags and slippers, among others, Gallyer said.
Diane White read about Loving Hearts in the Key Peninsula News a few years ago. She liked the idea of the group, but was too busy to join right away. “I was still working then, and it wasn’t until I retired that I thought I would like to take part, follow up and actually go to meetings,” White said.
These days, White does much more than just attend meetings. She handles clerical work for the organization, typing up the letters that accompany donations to each charity. She also keeps track of the number of items donated. She coordinates with Backpacks 4 Kids, and also sorts the knit items by gender.
Once a month, White travels to Fife, where a second Loving Hearts group formed about two years ago. Although the Fife knitters donate finished items to charities within their own community, it is the KP Loving Hearts that furnishes their yarn. A third Loving Hearts group formed in Shelton last year.
The group is seeking new knitters. They are even willing to teach interested folks how to knit or crochet if necessary. “We always love having new people,” White said.
The twice-monthly meetings at WayPoint Church are designed to fit into busy schedules, with one meeting scheduled for evening and one for daytime. The knitters themselves enjoy knitting for free, allowing them to share a beloved hobby while simultaneously giving back to the community. “It’s nice because people don’t have to buy yarn,” White said.
Organizers say that Loving Hearts is always in need of yarn donations.
“We really appreciate the donations the public gives us over the years because we funded it ourselves first,” Kelly said. They also are eager for new volunteers.
Yarn donations can be dropped off at WayPoint Church, 12719 134th Ave. KPN. Anyone interested in knitting or crocheting with the group can contact Gallyer at (253) 884-9619.