Daily Archives: February 21st, 2007

How one woman is making a difference in the world.

You’ve heard me talk about Warm The World many times. Here’s the Pueblo Chieftain’s story about my favorite charity and the founder, Nan Sullivan:

‘Made with love’

Volunteer knitters Warm the World with hats, blankets


Nan Sullivan was at “loose ends” when she knitted up her huge project four years ago.

Sullivan’s Warm the World last year gave 762 afghans and 1,875 hats and scarves to people needing a little warmth in their lives: hospice patients, babies born to Fort Carson soldiers serving overseas, homeless people weathering cold winter nights. All the items were knitted or crocheted by volunteers.

Sullivan, 45, a Canon City resident, started the project in 2003 when she was confined to bed rest and had made afghans for practically everyone she knew. She also was researching adoption and came up with the idea “to wrap each child in a blanket made with love.”

She found willing knitters and crocheters, gave them yarn, and the first year she sent 64 blankets to Romania for orphaned children. Today, 125 volunteers in Colorado and 69 in other states – plus 68 women at Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility – are knitting and crocheting for the project. Some of the volunteers make quilts as well.

The project works so well because most of the volunteers have lots of time and, given free yarn, they’re happy to create “softies” for a cause.

“We supply all the yarn,” Sullivan said. “We pay for all the shipping. This opens it to a whole new demographic of people who can knit for charity: the elderly, the homebound, people who might be on fixed incomes and can’t afford to buy a lot of yarn.”

Sullivan’s daughter, Erica Koenig of Pueblo, talked about Warm the World last week at a regular gathering of knitters at Colorado Fiber Arts, 121 Broadway Ave.

Koenig said her mother was visiting Denver and saw all the homeless people – including the children – outside Samaritan House. That old familiar feeling of “What can I do to help?” overcame her. The answer? Warm, handmade garments. Samaritan House joined the list of Warm the World recipients.

Koenig said she handed out blankets made for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, “and it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

She showed brightly patterned socks that will go to Pine Ridge Indian reservation, a frilly scarf like the ones sent to Eastern European orphanages, and baby blankets and quilts destined for Fort Carson. And she said her mother’s goal for 2007 is 1,500 blankets for the babies of soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

“It was really pretty much a small-time thing and now it’s global,” Koenig said.

Sisters DeAnne Atteberry of Pueblo and Chris Smith of Pueblo West have been crocheting for Warm the World for two years. They saw a newspaper article about the project, started going to meetings in Canon City and contacted several Pueblo agencies to see if they wanted knitted and crocheted goods.

“Just hearing the stories – especially from (Sangre de Cristo) Hospice – or seeing the faces of the volunteer coordinators when you deliver them or reading the thank-you notes Nan receives; the response just makes you want to keep doing for other people,” Atteberry said.

Smith said she continues to crochet for the project because she likes helping other people. She keeps track of the items she and her sister make, and the current tally is 150 hats, 25 to 30 blankets and 15 scarves.

Emily Barnard, owner of Colorado Fiber Arts, has volunteered her store as a drop-off point for donated yarn and for knitted and crocheted garments made for the project. And she envisions a rock-a-thon featuring knitters and crocheters in rocking chairs, making blankets and garments for Warm the World and giving the pledge money they raise to a local charity.

“We’re so lucky to have her (Sullivan) so close,” Barnard said. “She’s so into it and helps so many people.”

Knitters and crocheters can use any pattern they like and there are no size requirements, Sullivan said. Any type of yarn – acrylic, blends, wool, cotton – can be donated to the project. Cash donations also are welcome, which will be used to purchase yarn and pay shipping costs. Wal-Mart has contributed to Warm the World, Sullivan said.

More information, including how to participate, is available at Sullivan’s Web site, www.warmtheworld.org.

Among the agencies the project supports are: A Caring Pregnancy Center; Canon City Pregnancy Center; Sangre de Cristo Hospice; Catholic Charities, Diocese of Pueblo; Fremont County Adult Services; Loaves and Fishes Ministries, Fremont County; Pine Ridge reservation; Samaritan House; and Xtreme Response, which aids families in Africa.