Students gather weekly at the Keeton dorm to finger knit scarves and other wares to benefit the Ithaca community.

Courtesy of Alpha Phi Omega

Students gather weekly at the Keeton dorm to finger knit scarves and other wares to benefit the Ithaca community.

February 5, 2019

Students Knit Clothes to Benefit Local Ithacans One Stitch at a Time

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The extreme weather and wind chill that swept Ithaca last week emphasized problems for homeless individuals in the Ithaca community. Even on nicer days, changing weather and environmental conditions can prove to be a challenge.

Cornell’s co-ed service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega has once again continued a project where students finger knit clothes for the people in need.

To better respond to the surging need for resources, APO partnered with the Catholic Charities of Tompkins-Tioga, which receives APO’s freshly assembled garments and distributes them through its free clothing closet to Ithacans.

The finger knitting project has been a staple APO event for several years, according to members, and has seen steady growth in both membership and popularity since its inauguration.

Knitting sessions are now held weekly in collaboration with other service organizations on campus, such as the Golden Key International Service Fraternity and Epsilon Eta Sustainability Fraternity.

Beyond providing wares to those in need, the finger knitting events also help fulfill the fraternity’s goal of placing a large “emphasis on service learning,” which is intended to teach brothers practical skills through charity, according to Kelly Stone ’20, organizer of the project.

“Finger knitting is a great way to work toward this goal since the volunteers learn the skills to make scarves using just yarn and their fingers,” Stone told The Sun. “They can take those newfound skills with them and use even outside the context of the service event.”

But ultimately, the chief benefit of the weekly knitting sessions lies in providing a space for “brothers to talk and form bonds,” while letting struggling Ithaca residents know Cornell has not forgotten about them, according to Amlicke.

“In the end, it provides someone in a rough place with a handmade scarf and some assurance that someone else cares,” Amlicke said.