Oakdale Woman's Hobby Turns into Christmas Gifts for Children in Need

Shirley Peterson has been knitting and crocheting for years. This year, her items will be given to families through the Holiday Helping Hands program.

Shirley Peterson has been knitting hats and gloves for more than 57 years, but this will be the first time her work will be distributed in Oakdale.

Peterson says it's just a hobby — something she has done over the years to keep her hands busy. 

"I'm never without those needles in my hands," Peterson said. "I just can't sit without them." 

Peterson, 80, said that one day she decided to teach herself how to knit and crochet. On her way home from her government job, she stopped to pick up a "how to" book, some needles and yarn. Then she knit her son a wool hat, mittens and even made him a jacket.

The most she has ever made at one time was 600 pieces, she said.

"These were times when people did this kind of stuff," Peterson said.

Since then, Peterson has typically made Christmas stockings, mittens and hats for her family, as well as members at her church's congregation at Lutheran Church of Peace in Maplewood.  

While she normally just made items for her family, she decided to expand her reach to her direct community this year.

After dropping off some mittens and hats to Lake Elmo Bank in Oakdale, which sends the donated items to Valley Outreach in Stillwater for distribution across Washington County, Peterson had one request: keep some of the items in Oakdale. 

Peterson donated 100 pieces of mittens and hats along with some afghan blankets for the bank to distribute to the local community. 

"Shirley said that a lot of times she doesn't know where these things go, but it would be great to know they were in our community," said Jodi Christensen, Lake Elmo Bank's branch manager in Oakdale. 

That's where the bank connected with Holiday Helping Hands — a community initiative that provides Christmas gifts to children and families in need in the community.

"I wanted to honor that request and she is so kind, and as I was thinking I thought of Holiday Helping Hands," Christensen said. "So I called Shirley and told her about the program and she just loved it." 

Related:  OBPA Partners with Community to Lend a 'Helping Hand' for Children this Christmas

On Dec. 8, Tartan High School students will be delivering the mittens and hats to 50 children, along with their Holiday Helping Hands gifts. 

"We're taking her stuff and we're going to give it the Tartan students dressed as elves and santas and they will distribute (the hats and gloves) to families that need them that day," said John Larson, the senior pastor of Hope Church, who spearheads the Holiday Helping Hands program. 

"I've lived in Oakdale and Washington County for a long time, so I wanted to give them in my community," Peterson said.

For more information about Holiday Helping Hands or to get involved contact John Larson at 651-755-5591 or john.larson@hopechurchoakdale.com. 


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