For the past 12 years, ESRA Rishon Knitting Circle has been meeting monthly to socialize and to knit sweaters, hats and scarves to distribute before Chanukah to after-school centers for disadvantaged kids in Rishon. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we were unable to visit the centers in 2020, but managed to get hats and scarves to the 15 children we have adopted at Ofakim.

Before Chanukah 2021 we discussed the possibility of personally visiting the 24 after-school centers in Rishon. We decided, at our advanced ages, that it would be too dangerous for us, as Omicron had raised its ugly head and the kids were not vaccinated. We decided that rather than allowing the children to choose and try on the sweaters, as in previous years, we would simply put an appropriate number and size, as per the lists received from the Social Welfare Department of the Rishon Municipality, into plastic bags and drop them off at the centers, leaving the teachers to match sweaters to children. Each child received a packet containing a hat and a scarf, as well as a packet of Chanukah candies, to which they added the sweaters once the teachers had organized them. We distributed 200 packets to the children in December 2021.

Unfortunately, our knitting group has dwindled over the years, from 12 knitters to just 4 or 5, due to aging aches and pains and inability to knit. The same is happening at the retirement home, Ad-120, which has been assisting us so much over the past nine years. Their numbers have also dwindled, but they carry on valiantly as best they can. Hopefully, by the end of 2022 we will have sufficient items to distribute to as many children as need them.

Each year, when we are in the middle of the balagan of sorting the sweaters, hats and scarves into parcels, we debate whether to carry on the next year. Our meetings provide a wonderful social meeting of ladies, many of whom live alone and love to get out. But when one gets a message like the following from a mother: "Thank you so much to the Grannies for the sweater and scarf. Uri was very thrilled … he said that it is warm and comfortable. He even asked to sleep with it at night" – how can we stop? It means so much to so many children and it warms our hearts every year.

To join our knitting circle in Rishon call Lorna 052 442 8574 or Shirley 050 855 7554