Framingham Knitting Group donates winter clothes to Afghan refugees

FRAMINGHAM – Nanette Magnani traveled to Afghanistan in 1977 as a Peace Corps employee to visit a country where she had read a lot about the history of its violent independence during past years volunteering in Malaysia and other countries.

She left the country the same year fascinated by an isolated but rich multi-ethnic culture she has never forgotten.

Nearly 45 years later, with the backdrop of the August crisis forcing Afghan families to seek shelter outside their country, Magnani decided to do her part in helping incoming refugees.

From her home in Framingham, Magnani, 74, a retired consultant to several major organizations and agencies, has organized a group of over 15 knitters and crocheters from across MetroWest who meet monthly on Zoom to donate winter clothing for Afghan refugees in Greater Boston.

Nanette Magnani and Catherine Garhan sew some clothes for Afghan refugees at Magnani's home in Framingham, December 19, 2021.

The group calls itself “Knitting with a Purpose”.

“It is likely that most, if not all of the refugees from Afghanistan, will be Muslims, and we feel that they are likely to face some sort of prejudice while they are here,” Magnani said. “We want refugees to feel welcome and accepted for who they are.”

Working with Catholic Charities, a national anti-poverty organization, the group gathered information on the ages and sizes of the refugees, so the group can make custom-made winter accessories.

Within two weeks, Magnani made two donations to Afghan children, toddlers, teens, and adults.

Their second donation on December 17 consisted of 81 hats, 16 pairs of gloves, 13 hoodies, 14 scarfs, three jackets, 13 shawls, one baby blanket, two stuffed animals, and several fabrics and coasters.

Catherine Garhan knits some clothes for Afghan refugees, December 19, 2021.

This was double the amount of the first donation.

“We feel as though by giving them a personalized gift rather than random dimensions, they will know that there are people here in the United States, particularly in Massachusetts, who will welcome them,” Magnani said.

In her West Roxbury home, Jenny Reed, 35, always looks to her monthly Zoom meetings to present her knitting results.

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