Lynn Edelstein, 71, has been knitting since she was a little girl. Her mother taught her how to knit when she was 7 years old, and she, in turn, taught her own daughter, Julie Levine.It was while she was accompanying Julie to tour the new Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center that Edelstein hit upon a new direction for her knitting skills and passion. “I left there with two wishes,” Edelstein said. “I never want to come back here and I want to do something for every child who comes here.” The second wish spawned Chai Hopes, a volunteer initiative Edelstein spearheaded that has donated more than 4,000 knit blankets and 500 knit caps to the Levine Children’s Hospital’s young patients. From 8:30 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays, Edelstein and a cadre of knitting enthusiasts gather in the front lobby of the Levine Jewish Community Center. Their colorful blankets and skeins of wool are displayed throughout the lobby, often catching the attention of fellow knitters who opt to join the group later. The yarn that is used for the Chai Hopes blankets and caps is all donated, and volunteers now stretch across 20 states. People can also purchase a blanket or cap to donate, and many do so in honor of a child, so noted on a tag that is attached to the donated item. When a blanket or cap is completed, it is adorned with a tag that reads, “This item was handmade by (name of person who knit it), a member of Chai Hopes of the Levine Jewish Community Center. We hope this brings you a smile.” Barbara Gee, 65, is new to Charlotte and has enjoyed meeting people through Chai Hopes. “My daughter-in-law is going through chemo in Florida,” she says, “and I hope I can make chemo less horrible for someone else.” Nadalia Volynskaya, 63, joined the group two years ago. “I never had time to knit before retirement,” she says, “but now I love to sit and talk.” Edelstein also offers lessons and a place to knit at her Charlotte store, Yours Truly Needlepoint, located right around the corner from the LJCC. She opens the shop up to knitters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Dana Rasputin, 40, started a knitting group at Providence Day School thanks to Edelstein’s tutelage. “I taught the moms and girls together,” Edelstein says of the group of eight to 10 Providence Day students who would come to her shop every Thursday afternoon. “It’s great for kids with lots of energy,” Rasputin says. “It gives them a chance to sit still and relax while still getting something done.” For those who would prefer to purchase their knitting or needlepoint rather than make it themselves, there are plenty of items available for sale at Yours Truly Needlepoint. Edelstein donates 100 percent of the profits to charity, amounting to more than $750,000 to date. Recipients of Edelstein’s generosity include Misty Meadows Mitey Riders, a nonprofit that provides equine therapy for children with disabilities, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and a room at the LJCC.
Tuesday, Dec. 04, 2012
Knitting the way to a better world
Chai Hopes has made 4,000 blankets, 500 caps for sick children
Lynn Edelstein, founder of Chai Hopes, can be found surrounded by both knitters and knitting every Wednesday morning at the Levine Jewish Community Center.
Learn more: For information about Chai Hopes, contact Lynn Edelstein, 704-366-6765.