Woman crocheting afghans for vets gets donations
Janet Clark, an 83-year-old Dover Township resident, took the community by storm after an article published in The York Dispatch about her crocheting afghans for veterans.
Clark has been crocheting afghans since the late '60s, when a neighbor showed her how. Last year, she decided to start donating her afghans to veterans after her husband, Bud Clark, was visiting the VA Medical Center in Lebanon and noticed veterans in wheelchairs were cold.
Just a few weeks ago, Clark donated 32 crocheted afghans to the Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Upon seeing Clark's story, retired York City Assistant Fire Chief Richard Saylor knew he wanted to thank Clark for remembering the veterans. He reached out to the many active firefighters who also are veterans and asked if they'd be willing to donate money to Clark's cause.
"It touched me that this lady, at 83, would give so much time to our veterans," Saylor said. "I just felt I had to do something for her."
Overall, Saylor managed to raise $300 for Clark to use to purchase supplies or anything else she might need during the Christmas season. Saylor went with firefighter and veteran Don Newcomer to deliver the donation to Clark and thank her in person.
"I have spent time in Walter Reed," Newcomer told Clark. "I'm sure the guys down there are just thrilled to be remembered."
During their visit, Clark showed Newcomer and Saylor two of the afghans she has completed since dropping off her last delivery. She explained how she makes each afghan, which contains 80 squares and is approximately 4 feet by 5 feet. Bud Clark has estimated that it takes his wife approximately 45 hours to complete each blanket, and she finishes one just about every week.
She was surprised to open the card Newcomer and Saylor presented to her.
"You don't have to do this," Clark said said tearing up.
"You don't have to do what you do either," Saylor said, putting an arm around her.
"That's not why I do this," Clark said. "I'm not doing it for that reason, I'm doing it because I like to do it."
Clark said she's gotten a lot of attention since the article first ran. Friends from South Carolina called her to joke that they knew someone famous. Each Wednesday, Clark and her husband get together with a few couples they've known for years, and they made her stand up while they applauded her. She's also had a lot of people donate unused yarn; she has a bag full of it that she proudly showed Saylor.
She's also had people reach out to her to see if she could crochet afghans for other organizations, but Clark has had to turn them down so far.
"I'm just too busy with the vets," she said.
For the upcoming year, Clark said she'll be giving Walter Reed another call to see if they could use more afghans. If they are still set with the load she dropped off, she'll call other veterans associations and find one that is in need.
Clark said the donation will help her purchase supplies she needs for a long time to come.
"I just do the things I like to do," she said. "I can't sit and not do anything, I have to keep busy."