Several local hands are crocheting or knitting peace and warmth for those in hospice care.

November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to be aware of the services available to those who are ill and need comfort.

United Hospice of Aiken has been receiving knitted and crocheted items from two churches – St. Johns United Methodist Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Aiken – which enhances that level of comfort for their patients. Kathy Thibault of United Hospice said that patients love the lap throws and shawls. She said, when delivering them, smiles appear on the patients’ faces and some immediately curl up with their gift.

“It brings home to them,” Thibault said. “It keeps their spirits up – it’s a sense of comfort.”

The blankets come in many different colors and designs – patients get their own, unique gift.

First Presbyterian donates the handmade gifts, which are crafted by those participating in the church’s Prayer Shawl Ministry established in 2007.

The ministry’s co-leaders, Robbie Knox and Catherine Vandegrift, said they have about 24 women participating in the group, and they pray over the shawls they make. They pray for the past, present and future recipients.

“It’s a personal, tangible way to show God’s love,” Knox said. “It’s a way to see it, feel it and be wrapped in it.”

St. John’s offers its knit or crochet goods, including small pillows, through its Joseph’s Coat program. They started in the May of 2009 and have around 16 participants, according to Joseph’s Coat member Glenna Lathrop.

It’s something the ladies enjoy, said Joseph’s Coat member Nancy Perrine, saying knitting or crocheting is a soothing but productive thing to do.

“Crocheting is very calming – it’s soft and calm,” Perrine said. “That calming aspect transfers to the patients.”

Sandy Dunn, another member of Joseph’s Coat, said she understands the importance of hospice as she saw the peace it gave to her mother-in-law during her last days, so doing what she can to add to the comfort of those individuals means a lot to here.

“I’ve seen (the hospice) take such wonderful care of the patients that it literally gives those last few days a bit of pleasantry,” Dunn said.

Dunn also remembers several instances when the blanket brought happiness to someone who needed their spirits uplifts. She cited a time they delivered a red, white and blue blanket to a veteran in a nursing home during Christmas who said he hadn’t gotten a present in years.

Vandegrift said it’s just nice to give back to the community while doing something she enjoys.

“It’s a blessed use of our skills,” Vandegrift said.

Both churches also have groups that build wheel chair ramps for those in need, too.

Thibault said the gifts reminds those in hospice that people care about them and are thinking of them. And those who pass on, the blanket or shawl can be a memory passed down to their family or friends.

United Hospice of Aiken is always looking for volunteers. Call Thibault at 641-0060. Those interested in making and donating blankets through one of the church programs should also contact Thibault.