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Dover woman crochets afghans for veterans
Janet Clark has had one heck of a lifetime so far.
At 83 years old, she has traveled around the world and has been to every single state. She's won ribbons and trophies for bowling, crocheting and the Senior Olympics. She and her husband, Bud, even built a plane in their garage once. They used to fly to friends' houses in it.
Last year, though, Janet Clark, of Dover Township, decided to start putting her talent at crocheting to good use. When her husband was visiting the VA Medical Center in Lebanon, he noticed that many of the veterans in wheelchairs were cold. His home was already filled with afghans and blankets crocheted by his wife, so why not donate some of them?
He approached the VA and his wife with the idea, and both loved it. Near the end of 2015, Janet Clark donated 30 afghans of all different colors to the Lebanon VA Medical Center.
"I like to make them colorful," Janet Clark said. "It brightens their day."
Janet Clark spends time crocheting each individual square for the afghans, and then she sews the squares together. She explained that this keeps the blanket from fraying in the middle.
Each afghan contains 80 squares, making the finished product approximately 4 feet by 5 feet, the perfect size to sit on someone's lap in their wheelchair. Bud Clark estimated that it takes his wife approximately 45 hours to complete each blanket, and she finishes one just about each week.
Right now, the Clarks are gearing up to take this year's donation to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, in a few weeks. The medical center reached out to Bud Clark after hearing what his wife was doing for the Lebanon VA Medical Center and asked for donations for their veterans. Janet Clark has 30 completed afghans to donate, but she said she might finish another one or two before they take the donation in.
Each throw is very colorful, which is one of Janet Clark's favorite parts about the crocheting process, she said. She often uses partial skeins of yarn that her friends give her and supplements with her own yarn. She never knows exactly how the colors will work together, but they always end up looking beautiful, she said.
"My neighbor said, 'How can you give those away?'" Janet Clark said. "I told her, 'Because that's the point!'"
Janet Clark said she loves that the veterans are able to use her afghans to keep warm, but she also likes that the families of the veterans gets to keep them after their loved ones have died.
She's been crocheting since the late '60s, when a neighbor showed her how. She used to give the afghans away to family and friends, but she enjoys using her craft to help veterans now.
Janet Clark has entered her vibrant afghans into county fairs everywhere that she and her husband have lived. At this year's York Fair, Janet Clark took first place with a dark blue and multicolored afghan that she created. She plans to give that throw to her son and daughter-in-law.
Bud Clark just loves that his wife is helping veterans like himself. He served in the Air Force from 1949 to 1954 and fought in the Korean War. Though he picks on her for having to "suck up the yarn dust" all the time, he said that watching his wife make each blanket amazes him.
"I love her competitiveness," Bud Clark said about his wife. "Everyone says, 'Boy, that's the most competitive women I've ever met.'"
Though she competes in bowling tournaments and Senior Olympics and often sweeps the competition when it comes to afghan contests, Janet Clark is just making these afghan so that she can take something she's good at and help someone else. She hopes to encourage others to do the same, especially for veterans.
"So many people forget about the veterans, and they've done a lot for the country," Janet Clark said. "People should use their talent and use it for a good purpose, and I don't think there's any better purpose than the veterans.
"Do you think I said that right?" Janet asked her husband.
"Oh, you said it right," Bud Clark answered.