Assistance League® of Bend has provided thousands of beautifully knitted, crocheted and sewn hats to patients undergoing chemotherapy since their Hats, Hats, Hats initiative began in 1997. Members and community volunteers gather each week to create knitted and sewn hats for local cancer patients who have lost their hair. Cindy, a cancer survivor who received the handmade hats, shared that the hats are “like getting a hug; you feel warm and you feel loved.” Assistance League of Bend distributes the hats to St. Charles in Bend and Redmond as well as Summit Health, where patients in the infusion rooms may choose from a basket filled with the cozy and colorful knitted beanies and sewn sleep caps, fleece hats and cotton sunhats. They also distribute the hats at the annual Heaven Can Wait walk/run for breast cancer and hope it will return to an in-person event in 2022. There is no charge for the hats; they are gifted to people battling cancer.
In 2017, Assistance League of Bend expanded the impactful program to include “knitted knockers” which are knitted or crocheted bra inserts used by women who have undergone mastectomies. The devoted volunteers have created hundreds of the soft, washable knockers, in an assortment of sizes and colors that can be customized to fit an individual’s needs. Losing one or both breasts is difficult emotionally and physically for a patient recovering from the loss of a crucial part of their identity as a woman. The “knitted knockers” are a welcome alternative to silicone prosthetic breast inserts which can be heavy, uncomfortable and expensive. Assistance League of Bend received a heartfelt thank you note from Eileen, a woman who said she avoided going outside after her mastectomy until her sister sent her a set of knitted knockers she picked up at Heaven Can Wait. “I don’t think I will ever forget it. I locked myself in the bathroom and tried them on. Overwhelmed, I just sat and cried for a while. I got up and went outside that very day and have been going out ever since. Your generous dedication to helping other women, people you don’t even know, gave me courage.” The knockers are available along with the hats at St. Charles and Summit Health.
The organization’s newest outreach to cancer patients began when an Assistance League of Bend member gifted a shawl to a friend who was receiving chemotherapy infusions. The cozy polar fleece wrap was a comforting reminder to the patient that she was not alone on her journey. It also kept her warm and provided pockets for storing personal items like her cell phone and glasses during treatments. Since Assistance League of Bend had been providing handmade hats and knockers to cancer patients for numerous years, naturally the idea of providing comfort shawls was a welcomed addition to the program. Their volunteers cut and sew the shawls using donated fleece. The response to the shawl distribution has been incredibly positive and they expect there to be even greater demand as the seasons change.
Assistance League of Bend’s hats, knockers, and shawls are appreciated by patients who are going through a very hard time. Reverend Cathie Young, founder/chaplain of the local nonprofit, Cancer with Compassion, shared how important Assistance League of Bend’s Hats, Hats, Hats program is to the cancer patients she meets. “A diagnosis of cancer changes life forever and the journey through treatment is demanding on all levels. The hats, knockers and shawls are a big deal and provide comfort and hope. The program is unique because the handmade items are not sold; they are a gift to the community.”
Last year Assistance League of Bend delivered 2,108 hats, 74 knockers and 71 shawls to cancer patients in need of support. In addition to making hats for chemotherapy patients, they make preemie and newborn hats for St. Charles Neonatal Center, baby and children’s hats for Mountain Star Family Relief Nursery, as well as hats for adults and children facing hardship for Bethlehem Inn, Mosaic Medical, Deschutes County Family Health Services, Shepherd’s House and St. Vincent DePaul.
If you would like to learn more or get involved with the Hats, Hats, Hats program, please email email@example.com or call 541-389-2075.