Some very busy hands and minds working every Tuesday morning in the basement of Forsyth United Methodist Church have taken on a new project that is receiving explosive approval from everyone involved. The “Fingers of Love” crochet ministries began making fidgets, and they are eagerly awaited in local nursing homes, hospital rooms and Monroe County special needs classrooms.
Brenda Hughes explained that a ‘fidget’ is a crocheted square about the size to fit on a lap that is filled with things to touch, move and explore. There are buttons, pockets and things that wiggle or make noise. The colors are bright and there are lots of different patterns.
Hughes said the Fidget Project started when Nurse Practitioner Lisa Goodwin asked if Fingers of Love could make something to entertain her Alzheimer and dementia patients at a Monroe County nursing home while she visited for their regular health checks. Goodwin had seen some sleeves sewn with trinkets to entertain the patients for this purpose but said they really didn’t like to have something on their arms and she thought a crocheted piece they could hold in their laps would be preferable.
The Fingers of Love crew, which includes about 20 women, got busy, and the nursing home recipients loved the result. Hughes said Goodwin says it has made it much easier and more pleasant for her to do the medical checks that she needs to do.
Since the Spring of 2012 Fingers of Love has been crocheting items to give away. They make blankets for patients at Navicent Hospital, and they make hats for the tiny babies in the neonatal unit at Macon’s Coliseum Hospital. They just delivered 75 blankets to the Children’s Hospital in Macon. They started making fidgets using leftover pieces from the blankets.
Hughes said when Monroe County Hospital heard about the fidgets Fingers of Love made for the nursing home, they asked for some. Then Monroe County Schools Special Needs Director Jenny Rooks heard about them and asked for some. After taking eight to Monroe County teachers, she asked for 20 more. They asked for weighted pieces because the children find them calming, and Fingers of Love worked in weighted beads around the edges of the fidgets.
“They went crazy over them,” said Hughes.
She said that nursing home residents sitting next to each other in wheelchairs would steal one another’s fidget and swap back and forth.
Hughes said other groups have begun to ask for Fingers of Love fidgets, but the group will take care of all requests in Monroe County before it reaches out to serve others. The Fingers of Love members are taking care to secure all pieces on the fidgets that are going to children, even though these are school-age children, and are tweaking designs according to the feedback they get. They didn’t think the schools would like fidgets with bells or items that rattled and made noise, but Rooks told them the children loved things that make noise and that is not a problem for teachers in special needs classrooms.
Women come to work with Fingers of Love each week from throughout Monroe County and from Jones and Bibb counties, too. Over the last eight years, many friendships have developed, and Hughes said the women are a family, sharing with one another what is going on in their lives week to week. Hughes said everyone is welcome, whether they are an expert at crochet, are interested in learning the art, or just want to help with other aspects of making fidgets, blankets or baby hats. She said it takes about 20 hours and $10 worth of materials to make a fidget.
Fingers of Love gives away all they make without charge, but they need donations to keep them in yarn and other materials. They watch for yarn sales, and Hobby Lobby gives them a 10 percent discount, but periodically their supplies run low. Anyone who wants to help can write a check to Forsyth UMC and designate it for Fingers of Love.
“The Lord has led this thing. Who would have known how it would blossom?” said Hughes. “We’re just a family. We share woes and praises. God is in the middle of all. If you think crochet is dull, you’re wrong. We’re a little wild and crazy—crazy about our mission.”