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Islanders keep Seattle warm with 'Knit. Purl. Give.'
With the incoming cold season, some are wondering how the countless homeless in downtown Seattle are keeping warm.
Just in time for the holiday season, one island resident was asking this question while, simultaneously, Sen. Christine Rolfes and Andrea Mackin of the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association were at work to figure out how Bainbridge can help.
In two weeks, Ty Evans, a resident and Windermere real estate agent, has been able to enlist more than 100 participants in her drive to collect knit hats for the homeless.
It was an effort that began last year after Evans took a city-cycling class.
“The guy who would teach the classes, he would always talk about the homeless,” Evans said.
Though the class focused on how to ride through downtown’s busy traffic, Evans found the multitude of people sleeping on the street to be the most impactful aspect of the experience.
With the help of her daughter, Alexandra Jackson, Evans didn’t waste any time recruiting 15 coworkers to participate in an informal knitting project for the homeless. It has since grown to a whole new level of giving and has been dubbed “Knit. Purl. Give.”
At just about the same time that Evans was organizing to put on a bigger drive for this year, Mackin received a phone call from Rolfes, a 23rd District lawmaker from Bainbridge Island.
She asked if there was any way Bainbridge could partner up with the Seattle Downtown Association to help with the homeless situation in Seattle.
All the pieces fit together after that. Evans got in touch with Mackin to put on a larger collection than the year before, and Mackin connected with Dave Willard of downtown Seattle’s Metropolitan Improvement District.
“We would have gone through a very traditional route,” said Mackin of the coincidence. “But this opened up the opportunity to get it to the people directly and to those who will be on the street through the coldest weather.”
In speaking with Willard, Mackin said she learned that Seattle has programs in place that have enabled them to put trained professionals on the street so they can begin to earn the trust of the homeless population and make steps toward improving their lives.
Mackin explained the hope is that once Evans has reached a sizable collection of hats, Willard can get the hats to the professionals on the street.
“I think the concern that everyone has is not at all about how unsightly or dangerous it is — it’s a humanitarian concern,” Mackin said.
On Nov. 7, Evans had about 45 people show up to the kick-off party at Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. Evans paid to supply participants with yarn and patterns from the downtown shop.
Thus far, Evans said, they have met their goal of 100 participants in the drive, but there’s still plenty of room for more.
“I think that based on the hats that I’ve received so far that it’s giving people an opportunity to do something,” Evans said.
Evans encourages anyone who has extra yarn at home to participate. There is a collection basket at the Windermere Real Estate offices on Madison Avenue through Dec. 15 for those interested.
Those who would like to make this an annual project can expect the drive to be back next year.
“I think it’s just a good thing, and it takes a village,” Evans said. “It’s really just to keep people warm this time of the year.”