Knitting prayer shawls for Sanford patients

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As cold weather continues to stir, one resident at the Good Samaritan Society is getting people warmed up for the season.

After moving here four years ago, independent living resident Alta Gaarder​ joined a knitting club. Taking things a step further, the group meet every Friday to knit items for Sanford patients.

During the week you can usually find Alta Gaarder knitting somewhere at the Good Samaritan Society Parire Creek lodge.

“I do spend afternoons and evenings knitting in front of the TV,” Gaarder said.

But on Friday afternoons, she can always be found in the library joined by a group of other residents.

“One there, one here, and scattered out there knitting… knitting the prayer shawls,” Gaarder said.

The group has been making shawls and blankets for four years.

“I bet there were 15, 20 women that were gathered around the tables… and tie blankets,” Gaarder said.

That was before COVID-19. These days the most they get is around five and have been mainly working on the shawls. Each one goes to a different patient at Sanford Health.

“It may be a patient who got a new diagnosis, maybe a terminally ill patient, maybe somebody who had a bad car accident. It’s just a variety of people who maybe need a little bit of comfort,” Director of Volunteers at the Sanford Medical Center Bixler said.

Bixler says it hard not to get wrapped up in all the emotions when giving someone a shawl.

“Not all the people get to see the patients that receive those prayer shawls but, from personal experience, it does bring that comfort. There’s something about a prayer shawl that when you put it around somebody it just brings comfort,” Bixler said.

“And it’s a good feeling. I don’t ever connect with the people but we send notes with the blankets and… ‘God be with you,’ ‘Help you to heal,’ and different things like that,” Gaarder said.

And each one is just as unique as the person who receives it.

“We also make red, white and blue prayer shawls for our veterans, and those are beautiful as well,” Bixler said.

“I try different things…. and I put the pattern of a cross — I’ve done that on a few too to see. I’ve put a cross in there; in the knitting,” Gaarder said.

Bringing a little comfort in a time where it can be hard to find. Gaarder says they’re always looking for yarn donations. If you’d like to help, just call Sanford volunteer services at 605-333-6374 to make arrangements for drop off.

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