October 6, 2015

The Magic Yarn Project

 This is Lily, the little girl who first inspired a small project creating princess yarn wigs for little girls who have lost their hair from cancer treatments.  Lily's mother was one of my classmates and friends during nursing school.  Last September at the age of 2 1/2, Lily was diagnosed with lymphoma, turning her and her family's world upside down.  When I found out about Lily's diagnosis, my heart sank and I longed to be able to put my "oncology nursing cap" back on and rush to her bedside to take care of her.  Cancer patients continue to have a very strong pull on my heart.  Unfortunately, I live across the country from her and felt helpless to do anything beyond offering prayers on her behalf.  So I prayed and continued on with my life, and that's about the time I started going through a struggle of my own......

I began having strange symptoms and difficulties that I had never experienced before: night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, panic attacks, general apathy.  I just wasn't myself......I wasn't sure if it was hormonal changes because I had recently stopped breastfeeding, or if it was depression, or problems with my thyroid.  I changed my diet, made exercise a priority, and threw myself into my responsibilities to hopefully make the symptoms go away.  Though I found ways to help me cope, I still struggled with the feeling that this just "wasn't me".

One day while praying to Heavenly Father to help me get back to normal, the distinct thought came to my mind that I needed to make Lily a yarn wig.  I had seen through Facebook updates that she was back in the hospital and her beautiful, curly blonde hair had fallen out.  Because cancer treatments often leave patients' scalps too tender and sensitive to comfortably wear traditional wigs, they often just wear scarves and beanies to cover their heads and keep warm.  I knew that Lily would probably be missing her long, beautiful hair and I knew that she loved Disney princesses, so I dropped my day's to-do list and made her a Rapunzel yarn wig on a soft, crocheted beanie and sent it in the mail.  Within a week her mother sent me the picture above of Lily wearing her wig: she LOVED it!  Her mother mentioned how many other little girls at the cancer center would be thrilled to have yarn wigs and it started a little fire inside of me.  Maybe I could organize a small project through my church's women's society creating a few wigs for little girls with cancer.  Maybe I could slowly and constantly make the wigs myself and mail them to different cancer centers who would want them.  So I posted my idea for this project on Facebook and asked if anyone had connections to children's cancer centers who would want these.  Within a day I had connections to eight hospitals saying they would love these wigs, that this was an inspired project, that it was going to do so much good.  I knew then that this would be something really special to be involved in, so I planned to organize a service project creating these wigs in the fall with the women in my church.

When I began organizing this event last month, I realized that with our limited funds we may only be able to make a few dozen wigs and even then we would need some yarn donated in order to make it happen.  Once again, I took to Facebook asking if anyone had some yarn they'd like to donate so we could make yarn wigs for little girls with cancer.  Within 48 hours my request had been shared nearly 100 times, people around the nation (complete strangers) were offering to donate yarn or money for the project, mothers of little girls with cancer from Seattle to Scotland were inquiring how they could get these wigs, the local newspaper contacted me wanting to do a story on this project, and countless local friends, family, and strangers were asking if they could come to the activity to help create the wigs.  I was overwhelmed!  I knew earlier this spring that this would be a special project, but I didn't imagine that part of what would make this project so special is the enthusiasm it would spark in others to give and serve.  It was inspirational to see how many good and giving people there are all over.  I was contacted by a friend of a friend, Bree, who has been a HUGE help and completely involved in helping get a GoFundMe page set-up for donations, a name and logo designed for this project, and who has had amazing ideas on how to organize this project as it very rapidly grew into something much bigger than I had anticipated.

As of today "The Magic Yarn Project" has raised a little over $2000 dollars for yarn and shipping costs, has set up our first local workshop for putting together the wigs on October 17th, and has collaborated with a crocheting club of 90 women at the local Women's Correctional Facility to help make as many beanies for these wigs as we would need.  These women are excited to serve in this capacity and have shown interest in having us come teach them how to put these wigs together for their own project.  Their enthusiasm and willingness has completely touched me.  People in communities from various states have shown interest in wanting to put together their own fundraisers and wig-making workshops, so I am planning on creating a website with supply lists, pictures, video tutorials, etc in order to help them be a part of this project.

As I look back on my personal struggle this past year, I am grateful for a loving God who answered my prayers and prompted me to reach outside of myself to serve others.  It hasn't solved everything and I definitely don't preach service as a cure-all for whatever ails us, but I can attest that life is so much sweeter when we try to help make others' lives better, and I realize that while this project will bring magic into little girls' lives who are going through difficult times, being a part of this project is also bringing some magic into the lives of those who serve.  So thank you to all who have contributed so far.  You make me want to be a better person. :)

If you'd like to donate yarn (we mostly need red, brown, reddish-brown, white, black, and yellow) please mail it to:

Holly Christensen
3467 N. Palmer Fishhook Rd. #C
Palmer, AK 99645

If you'd like to donate money that will go to purchasing supplies and shipping wigs to various cancer centers, please visit our GoFundMe page @ www.gofundme.com/magicyarn.

If you'd like to keep updated on what is happening with this project, visit our Facebook page @ www.facebook.com/magicyarnwigs.


The Allen Family said...

Holly, you are so amazing. I hope everything is okay with you and that you are feeling better. Love you!

Rachel said...

Thank you!!! You are amazing and are truly on the Lord's errand.

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