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'Miss Doily' crochets with kids

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Willena Jacobs loves children and loves crochet, so it just seemed natural to her to volunteer with the local Boys & Girls Clubs of Bandera County. It wasn't long before this friendly woman, known as 'Miss Doily,' to her friends and the kids, had a group of club members happily looping yarn around crochet hooks to create granny squares and other projects.
"One of the best students was a nine year old boy who made granny squares while sitting in the deer blind!" Jacobs reported.
Jacobs, who has ties with the Kalka and Thetford families in Bandera County's history, is also a member of the Bandera Kiwanis Club.
She was chatting with another member at a meeting and admitted, "I'm a crocheting fool!" The member mentioned hearing about a crochet project that recycled plastic grocery bags to provide ground mats for the homeless.
Jacobs quickly went on-line to find out how to do the project. She also made contact with Greg Parker, chief professional officer of the local Boys & Girls Club and also a member of Kiwanis. "He said some of the kids were crocheting. I was thinking teenagers, but it turned out to be the elementary kids," said Jacobs. She was invited to bring the ground mat project to the club at Hill Country Elementary and she now has a group of kids helping create the mats.
Besides being a nice service opportunity, the project involves a wide variety of skill levels. "You don't have to know how to crochet," explained Jacobs. "There are lots of others parts to the project for kids to do."
The project uses 500-700 plastic grocery bags to complete a soft ground mat about two and a half feet by five feet in size. The mats are lightweight and insect proof.
Each grocery bag is folded and the bottom and top are cut off. The remaining bag is then cut into strips about one inch wide called biscuits. The biscuits are opened up and connected to make plastic yarn. The yarn is rolled up into balls for the crocheter.
It takes about 24 hours of work to complete one of the ground mats using a large #13 crochet hook. When the kids finish theirs, Jacobs will deliver them to a homeless shelter.
During the club's regular school year session, Jacobs spends about 30 minutes a week working with her group of kids. "It surprised me that it turns out to be a therapy session," said Jacobs. "The kids talk [about many of their most personal concerns] while they work. No tech gadget or psychiatrist could do that."
Jacobs is clearly touched that her kids have found a way to relieve their emotions and stresses through her simple project. She carefully keeps their revelations confidential.
"I love kids," said Jacobs, who also is a school bus driver, and spent a career in the nursing profession. "That's my calling. They like to hear my stories, too, like about going to Korea and eating dog by mistake!"
We'd like to hear that story, too, but we'll save it for another time.
Jacobs believes that giving some of your time to a kid is "so precious," and she's happy she has the opportunity to work with them on a positive project at the club. "It's a win win situation," she said.
She doesn't take credit, however, for the comfort any of the children might have experienced while working with her. "It's like the Lord crocheted and healed a broken heart," she said.