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Seniors knitting beanies for newborns
Nancy Hursh and Bobbi Gwynn work on finishing handmade stuffed bears. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Don’t ever tell Dottie Avery that a 96-year-old can’t do something.
Because the stack of hand-knitted beanies that she makes with a group of three other women to ensure that newborns at Doctors Hospital of Manteca go home with a piece of handcrafted love says otherwise.
While most people were planning their holiday weekend on Friday, Avery joined her friends in knitting for a regular gathering at The Commons at Union Ranch focused on making as many beanies as possible for the new arrivals that might be coming within the next week.
And she loved every minute of it.
“It definitely keeps me busy and keeps me out of trouble,” Avery said with a laugh. “I started knitting when I was 20-years-old and I’ve been doing it ever since so I’ve been doing this for a while.
“It’s just fun to sit and gab and know that your work is going to benefit families here in the community.”
And while Avery’s group – which included fellow Commons resident Merriel Quacinella – doesn’t have many members, they are more than effective when it comes to meeting their target goals.
Avery says that she’s able to get about a beanie a day done by hand, and Quacinella says she can finish one of them in about three hours in the evening when she’s back in her apartment watching television.
“This is something that I learned to do when I was 7 and I’m 85 now,” Quacinella said with a laugh. “I think that it’s something that’s relaxing and it keeps you mentally active and that’s a very important thing.”
But the knitters weren’t the only ones who were putting their crafting skills to work to benefit children during the holidays.
Across the room from Quacinella and entire table of residents lorded over a stack of teddy bears that were being made for the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center – each bear being handed out to a sick or injured child to make them feel a little bit more at home.
For Emily Maberto, knowing that the fruits of her labor are going to benefit children that are scared about the sterile surroundings of a hospital is all the motivation that she needs to be involved with the effort – which churns out six dozen of the bears every six weeks to keep the chest stocked at the hospital.
“The fabric comes to us in scraps and we have to stuff them and tie a ribbon on them and we have a 98-year-old resident who does an amazing job with all of the sewing,” Maberto said. “We all do this because we want to help wherever we can, and it’s great to be able to give back to the community with something that we know how to do.”
The fabric and ribbons are donated to the group by the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and The Commons at Union Ranch furnishes all the stuffing necessary to bring the two flat pieces of fabric to life.
While some, like Maberto, have had lots of experience with knitting and craftwork, others like Nancy Hursh are learning as they go. Hursh spent her Friday placing the stuffing into the bears as the pile in the middle of the table began to grow.
“It’s a social event and we all have a lot of fun doing this, but it’s also something that we enjoy because it benefits the kids,” Hursh said. “I don’t have a lot of experience with this, but I’m learning a lot. It’s great to talk with all of the ladies and know that your effort is going to help somebody in need.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.