SPOTLIGHT: There's More than Pine Needles Falling From This Christmas Tree

1/5/2011

During the past Christmas season, you have probably smelled the pine of real evergreen trees or seen the bright lights decorating artificial trees. You may even have chosen a hanging ornament of a Giving Tree. First Congregational Church UCC of Harwich, however, warmed the hearts of many people this year with a Knitting Tree. 

Three years ago, a member of the Christian Education Committee suggested putting up a Mitten Tree.  The tree was to hold hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves -- which would be donated to the Cape Cod Council of Churches.  (The church members re-named the tree this year to a "Knitting Tree" to ensure members realized that scarves and hats were also welcome.)  The project was announced during worship, noted in the bulletin, and even covered by their local Channel 18.
 
Before long, the donated tree was covered from trunk to treetopper.  Church secretary Gail Nickerson estimates that there were about 100 items left on the 7-foot tree this year.  "It was so well covered, you can barely see the tree itself," she said.
 
Some of the items were hand-knitted, others crocheted, and others purchased.  One woman contributed six scarves that she had made, while another brought in a brand new box with a purchased scarf because she couldn't knit one herself.
Harwich Knitting Tree 
The items will be heading to the Cape Cod Council of Churches for distribution.  The Council serves low-income individuals and families throughout Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. 
  
Betty Lou Hindle, who has been on the Christian Education committee for many years, was excited about the idea of the Knitting Tree when it was first proposed. "It is an extremely warm feeling to watch each Sunday as the tree gets filled with the knitted and bought hats, mittens and scarves. The tree looks so beautiful with all the colors of the donated items; and it is even more beautiful when there are so many donations there is an overflow that has to be placed on the floor under the tree."
 
Although no one is quite sure where the original idea came from, Candace Christiansen, an author and editor of children's books, wrote about an elderly woman named Sarah who notices a young boy at the bus stop without mittens, so she knits him a pair and leaves them on a tree where he'll find them. She continues to knit (anonymously) and leaves mittens for the children who need them.  Since it was published in 1998, her book, "The Mitten Tree," has inspired many organizations to follow in Sarah's footsteps.
 
In First Congregational's case, however, no feet were involved. It was inspiration that touched the members' hearts and benefited others' heads, necks, hands, and souls.
 
Shirley Montgomery submitted this story idea.  She, Betty and Gail can be reached at the church office at 508-432-1053 or firstchurchharwich@verizon.net.
 
 
Photo courtesy of Vince DeWitt.

 
 
 


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