Sixth-grader Angelo El Gamal, 12, pushes his half-eaten lunch to the center of the table and leans over his knitting. Like about 20 other sixth-graders in the Knitting Club at Camelot Elementary School in Annandale, Gamal uses part of his 30-minute lunch break to work on a scarf project.
Intent on perfection, Gamal explains that he is knitting two scarves — one for him, and one to give.
“It’s a little bit sad, but only a little, that you’re giving your knitting away,” he explains. “But it will be worth it.”
Students have already completed 18 scarves, which they plan to donate around mid-December to families using the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax. The shelter is currently serving 25 families — 32 adults and 39 children.
“What they’re doing is amazing. We’re so appreciative of what they are doing,” shelter Community Coordinator Nurjan Ahmedova said. “It’s going to help out so many kids and adults. And it’s amazing to see this sort of [giving spirit] in kids.”
Ahmedova said the need for winter gear grows as the season turns colder. The shelter needs coats, gloves, hats, scarves and more.
“Some people are less fortunate. They can’t really afford anything and you see all these things you have,” fellow sixth-grader Bernette Butler, 11, said. “It’s nice to give back.”
This is the overwhelming sentiment of 46 students who are in Camelot Elementary School’s Knitting Club. Although they don’t know who will receive their scarves, many students said they hope it goes to children like them.
“I started my scarf two weeks ago,” said Fareeha Aslam, 12. “When you start knitting it’s kind of addictive. It’s fun because you see the yarn and then it turns into a scarf.”
The school’s knitting club kicked off last year after a field trip, said teacher and club sponsor Mary-Carol “MC” Sheard-Trock, who said she was knitting on the bus and students were interested in picking up the skill.
“It’s gotten really big this year,” she said. “Last year we had about 20 [students]. They just like knitting.”
Knitting Club meetings are held twice a week during lunch time in Sheard-Trock’s classroom.
“We almost always have someone in here knitting,” said fellow club sponsor Fran Hitch, who is a teaching assistant in the school.
“It’s fun and it’s a good way to take out your stress,” Andrew Thomas, 12, said, adding that he gets stressed about homework (if any teachers are reading).
Sixth-grader Julie Martinez, 11, said, “I like how when you finish it you can wear what you’ve done.”
Martinez said she will feel good knowing something she made during knitting club is being used by someone who needs it.