Lynda Tomasello, founder of Caring HandsIn 2008, Assistance League of San Jose had six programs and a seventh began when Lynda Tomasello, a Charter Member, had been making afghan blankets and had the idea of creating items for babies.

Names such as Happy Hookers and Knit-wit Hookers were suggested, but the group settled on Knitting Special Interest Group. The group enjoyed a few different names, and, in 2008-2009, the group renamed itself and was called Blankets for Babies.
in 2010, it became Caring Hands.

Lynda became the first Chairperson and ran it for about three years. There were approximately 15 members. In the beginning, the group met in Lynda’s house, then in the lobby of the Almaden Community Center, and as the group grew, they met upstairs in a private meeting room in the Community Center. A couple years later, they moved to a larger space at Joint Venture Church, where the group still meets today. Members had investigated places where they could donate the afghan blankets and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center was chosen.

Prior to June of 2015, members were crocheting and knitting complete blankets and some hats.

Sheila Smith, Caring Hands ChairOn June 1, 2015, when Sheila Smith became Chairperson, she introduced the “fleece blanket” concept. Members spent the monthly meetings cutting holes in fleece which was very time-consuming and resulted in low productivity. Sheila began to cut all of the holes in the blankets herself, which allowed more time for crocheting and knitting during the meeting time.

In the beginning, only 25 pieces of cut fleece were brought to the monthly meetings to work on. Now, 130 pieces of cut fleece are brought to each monthly meeting!

Initially Caring Hands wasn’t funded as part of the Assistance League budget and members had to purchase their own fleece and yarn. Caring Hands was finally recognized as a viable contributor and was given a budget of approximately $700.00 a year. As the group began to grow and productivity increased, the budget was increased each year to a current amount of $19,100.00.

In the 2021-22 year, the members of Caring Hands donated over 7,000 items (handmade chemo caps and scarves, baby hats and blankets, layettes and quilts) to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, St. Louise Hospital, O’Connor Hospital, Family Suppportive Housing and to Parisi House on the Hill.

Lap blankets continue to be a popular prize chosen by Bingo participants at A Grace Rehabilitation Center and Acute Care, and at Stonebrook Health and Rehabilitation Center. Scarves, table runners, pillows, blankets and quilts are made and used at many of our fundraisers.

Caring Hands continues to be a unique program that provides a place for Assistance League of San Jose members to get together to enjoy and share their talents at crocheting, knitting and quilting.

Mary with Quilt
GInny holding layettes
Lynda and Sheila with table of yarn
Pam at Caring Hands
Phyllis with a table of layettes
Hilary at Caring Hands