Crafts for Cancer

Ben Rafal, Staff Writer

To combine their interest in knitting and crocheting with their commitment to helping cancer patients, Amira Dossani (11) and Emma Chan (11) founded the Crafts for Cancer club during the pandemic. 

Both club leaders have personal ties to the cause. After witnessing a person close to her battle with cancer, Chan began to think about how she could use her interest in knitting for a good cause, she said. “My mom always suggested that I make a hat because they had lost their hair and their head was cold,” she said. “I always felt like it was really nice when I was able to do something to help.” 

Last school year, after the creation of the club, Dossani’s grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she said. “[My grandmother] lives in Virginia, and there are these types of programs there too, and she used to always get really excited about the hats [patients] were given.” The patients were especially enthusiastic about the interesting designs knitted into the hats, she said. 

Chan and Dossani have held three meetings this school year, and they plan to continue to host one meeting per week. In club meetings, students create hats and blankets to donate to patients in cancer treatment programs at various hospitals. The club’s faculty advisor, Visual Arts Teacher Mirrie Choi, knows how to knit and is enthusiastic about the idea of using art to make a gesture supporting a community in need, she said. 

Becoming a Crafts for Cancer member does not require any prior knowledge of knitting or crocheting, since returning members of the club with more experience are paired with inexperienced members to teach them the basics, Chan said. 

Chan was first inspired to create the Crafts for Cancer club after expressing to her eighth grade advisor, history teacher Katharine Rudbeck, that she had no way of putting her knitted creations to use, she said. Her advisor suggested the idea of donating her projects to hospitals or people in need.

Tyler Rosenberg (10) joined Crafts for Cancer at the beginning of last school year after attending Cancer Awareness Club meetings and becoming interested about giving back to the community, she said. “One of my friends’ moms has had breast cancer and is still battling, and that was one thing that motivated me to learn more and more,” she said.

Due to COVID restrictions, the club was unable to work directly with hospitals last year. Most hospitals had closed down their gift receiving systems, especially for hand-made items such as hats or blankets, Chan said. Chan and Dossani thought creatively about a way to keep the club operative while school was remote, and partnered with a program called Knots of Love, which shipped the club’s creations to hospitals that were still open, she said.

Additionally, during the first meeting this year, club members decided on a unique way of packing their gifts for the hospital, Choi said. “[We] may be able to have custom shopping bags created once we complete our donations as a club and a design for the bag,” she said. “It would be another way to show our care and bring joy.”

In the future, Dossani hopes that the club can go to hospitals to donate their creations in person and spend time interacting with the patients, she said. “We do want to try and go to hospitals and teach patients at hospitals how to knit and crochet, as some sort of pastime that they could have,” Dossani said. 

Dossani hopes club members find it rewarding to engage in a craft they enjoy while helping the community at the same time, she said. Rosenberg remembers her first few times attending club meetings, and has fond memories of learning how to knit and crochet from her friends, she said.

The two leaders hope that club members recognize and appreciate that everyday gestures that can make a meaningful impact. “Care and love for others can come in a lot of different forms,” Choi said. “[Making hats and blankets] is a really particularly beautiful way that someone can experience [this love] by holding something. I think by interacting with people who are in the community in that way is really beautiful.”