In 2011, local business owner Deb Copeland made a trip to the Ukraine with her church group when she came across a group of elderly orphans. When she returned home, she shared her story with Mandy Cullison, owner of Groovy Girl Yarn Shop who decided to do something for these orphans.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays from Jan. 9 through March 2, Cullison is hosting a charity knitting and crochet gathering to create blankets for the orphans for Copeland to hand deliver to them when she returns to the Ukraine in the spring.

“(Copeland) and I discussed the situation and decided it would be a wonderful idea to knit or crochet lap blankets or hand warmers for these people,” Cullison said. “We would love to have a lap blanket for all of them.”

The orphanage has over 50 elderly orphans who have been there since they were infants, Cullison said.

“These people are in their 70s, and they’ve been there all their lives. The orphanage is clear up in the mountains where it’s pretty cold, so we’d like to do this for every one of them there,” she said.

Cullison is collecting donations of yarn for the people who would like to participate but can’t afford to purchase yarn. For those participating who can’t afford yarn, they can pick from the selection of donated yarn. For those who will be purchasing their own yarn to make a blanket, Cullison is offering 10 percent off to anyone who purchases it in her store.

The blankets can be crocheted, knitted, quilted, or even the tied together fleece-style blankets. Cullison said she’s not picky; she would just like each orphan to get a blanket made especially for them.

In addition to helping the orphans, Cullison said making the blankets also serves as an eye-opener to some about how lucky they really are.

“People don’t think of these people. When I heard their story, I was like, ‘We’re lucky, you know?’ It makes you think of when we gripe about not finding a parking place and little things like that,” she said.

The gatherings will be held at Groovy Girl Yarn Shop, 311 W. Walnut St., on Wednesdays and Saturdays between Jan. 9 and March 2 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cullison said blankets also can be made at home and donated to the shop.

Drop-off donations can be made on Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call the Groovy Girl Yarn Shop at 868-8255.