Tempe Needlewielders’ neighbors create joyous powerhouse for charity at Tempe’s Pyle Center

The Tempe Needlewielders, as they are called, meet at the Pyle Adult Recreation Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. With almost 100 members, the group is a powerhouse of needles and neighbors.

For almost 50 years, a creative group of women has met twice a week to laugh, chat and make sweaters, scarves, baby blankets, washcloths and slippers.

There are even so-called “chest warmers,” which are small crocheted, knitted, or quilted squares that are used by hospice services in the Southeast Valley to keep patients’ suitcases cozy.

The Tempe Needlewielders, as they are called, meet at the Pyle Adult Recreation Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. With almost 100 members, the group is a powerhouse of needles and neighbors.

“Everything we do is for a good cause. We give everything away to nonprofit groups, ”said Mary Lou Del Vecchio, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “We also sell some of our items, and the money from those sales goes directly to the community.”

Del Vecchio refers to the group’s annual fundraiser, a handicrafts sale that will take place on Friday October 22nd and Saturday October 23rd this year.

After 50 years, all but one of the original Tempe Needlewielders have died.

“I can crochet, but there are a lot of other people who crochet, so I sew,” says Laura Reisinger, who sews for the group.

Reisinger joined the group years ago after being told that she was needed.

“My mother was active for 20 years and she was 93,” says Reisinger. “When she left, my sister and I visited the ladies because we knew her after we brought my mother into the group. They said, ‘Come to us. We need your hands We need you to replace your mother’s hands. ‘

“And we did.”

The group continued to sew, knit, and crochet throughout the pandemic. They made and then sold more than 3,000 face masks.

The money raised was donated to local food banks.

Peggy Short echoed the feelings of many Needlwielders.

“I think we love creating something for each of us,” said Short. “And there are only so many things you can do for your family.”

A family can only use a limited number of Afghans, but the desire for creativity and comfort continues.

“So that really fulfills the need to be creative and then also the need to be helpful within the community,” said Short.

A woman used to come to the Pyle Adult Recreation Center but then lost her eyesight. She is in a care center but is still crocheting with a device to guide her with color.

Then there is the fun and friendships that arise on a shared heap of material.

Martha Kasapis joined in 2002 and has been with her friend ever since.

She sewed a 100 percent cotton washcloth.

“We started the same day and have been sitting together ever since,” said Kasapis.

“We usually have an activity like a pizza party or potluck once a month. Something. And we play bingo once a month, ”said Del Vecchio.

“We play a quarter card. You can play as many as you want and everyone wins. We have no losers. Everyone in the group goes out with a little something on bingo day. “

Before COVID, the ladies brought snacks with them. They are all vaccinated but wear masks, so snacking has been stopped for the time being.

Before the pandemic, around 40 women showed up for work on Thursdays. Due to COVID and the summer travel months, the numbers are slightly down. Nevertheless, the ladies continue to meet. You have not lost any members to COVID.

The yarns and fabrics used are donated.

The Tempe Needlewielders serve about 30 charities in the area, including Chemo Companions, Maggie’s Place, and Treasures for Teachers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *