Everyone appreciates the kindness of a gift, and there is something especially comforting about the softness of a hand-knitted garment.

The members of the Tatuanui Rural Women’s group understand this, combining both attributes in the hats, booties, cardigans and other items they knit for Waikato Hospital. The garments are distributed to the hospital’s neo-natal, oncology and children’s wards, where they are gifted to patients, their whānau and families.

The group, which currently has around 20 members, meets once a month to plan and pursue their work. But current president Sandy Upson stresses that knitting is only one of the activities the group is involved in.

“We’re part of the larger Rural Women’s New Zealand organisation, which was established in 1925, to help build strong, enduring rural communities. We provide advocacy, and action, around issues of importance to rural communities, such as communications and education, people using cell-phones while driving, and school bus safety measures. We also get involved in local projects and help out when communities are in need, for example following a flood or earthquake,” she says.

It is the knitting, though, that the group has, for several years, received a Trust Waikato donation for.

“We source the wool locally,” says Sandy. “And we distribute the garments locally too. It’s about providing practical assistance for people in our broader community.”

Sandy is confident that the art of knitting will continue to be practised and appreciated by generations to come.

“It’s one of those occupations, like baking and gardening, that enjoy regular resurgences in popularity,” she says.  “Our oldest member is 99, and although she can no longer make it to meetings, she’s still knitting up a storm.”

Trust Waikato agrees. There will always be a need for kindness and support, and for people prepared to provide it, to keep communities healthy and strong.

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