Reach out for yourself and others

Published: November 21, 2005 | 2790th good news item since 2003

NEVER underestimate the power of a sincere, humble request for help.

Look what happened when Jenny Carp invited knitters to make caps for people undergoing chemotherapy and when David Seaman posted a question on the Internet about the meaning of life.

Carp, a knitting instructor in South San Francisco, knitted a cap in 2001 for her best friend’s sister, who had lost her hair and was feeling constantly chilled during her course of chemotherapy treatments.

When Carp learned how helpful and appreciated her gift was, she recruited her knitting students to donate their time and yarn. Carp provided the patterns and arranged for caps to be distributed to hospitals, cancer centers and doctors’ offices in the San Francisco area. Thus was born Knitting Pals by the Bay.

When Dede Muhler learned of Carp’s project, she jumped at the prospect of making a difference in the life of cancer patients. She started an East Bay branch and talked her sister into starting groups in Washington state.

Since 2002 groups in Northern California and Washington have given thousands of caps to adults and children.

Muhler says that most of the knitters are older women who have big hearts, basic knitting skills and available time. Some younger women who are learning to knit have become involved. Volunteers can make as few or as many caps as they want at their own pace.

One of the many recipients who was physically and emotionally warmed by her cap wrote: “Thank you so much for the wonderful hat you knitted for me. It makes me feel special that people care for others they do not even know during times of crisis.”

Last year David Seaman, a college student in New York City, was struggling with his studies and wondering about the direction of his life. In a moment of despair he reached out and entered the question, “What is the meaning of life?” in an Internet forum. His low expectations were quickly surpassed when he received many responses from people of every age and background.

Eager to gain even more insight, Seaman created his own Web site, which generated national exposure, and he ultimately received 2,000 responses. He recently published a book containing a sampling of the diverse perspectives shared by strangers of all ages.

Responses came from the religious, atheists, people in the work force, students, and people thriving and suffering. They contributed generally uplifting, positive and inspirational thoughts. A common theme is that life is a gift to experience with openness, love and gratitude.

A lesson from these stories is that when you have an impulse to reach out for help with a worthy cause or pursuit, do it. Carp, Muhler and Seaman appreciate the sincerity, value and quality of each response, not to mention the volume of people who generously respond.

Published in Charity, Community
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