Wrap Around sale benefits homeless
By Elizabeth Sheeran
Want to add an extra layer of warmth to your holiday season? By selecting a gift from the individually hand-made hats, scarves or mittens on sale at the Nave Gallery in Somerville over the next few weeks, you won’t just be keeping a loved one toasty through the winter months. You’ll also get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with helping people in need.
The all-volunteer Wrap Around Project will open for business this weekend, offering a unique assortment of knitted, crocheted and sewn items in all price ranges and for all tastes, from bags to baby clothes. All proceeds will benefit the Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC). And any items still on hand when the sale closes on December 16 will be given directly to the Coalition’s clients.
“For us, it’s this wonderful win-win,” said SHC Executive Director Mark Alston-Follansbee. “They’re raising awareness of this issue. They’re doing something really tangible to help us and help people in need.”
He said private initiatives like the Wrap Around Project are critical to the survival of the Homeless Coalition, which has been working since 1985 to prevent homelessness in Somerville, because public funds don’t cover all of the costs of the SHC’s programs. And the need has increased sharply in recent years in the wake of the recession.
At any given time, the SHC is housing 125 or more families and individuals in its local shelters. But those numbers don’t fully reflect the agency’s impact on the community, since a big part of its mission is to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place, through advocacy, support services and help with basic needs like food.
Alston-Follansbee said the SHC prevented 140 families from becoming homeless in 2010. That number rose to 225 in 2011, and he said it will almost certainly be much higher for 2012. At the same time, over 1,200 Somerville families use the agency’s food pantry to help make ends meet, and that number is increasing steadily too.
“We’re seeing more and more people coming to the food pantry because they’re trying to keep their housing,” said Alston-Follansbee, “They have to make a terrible choice between paying for housing and paying for food.”
Originally inspired by the sight of the homeless struggling to keep warm in Harvard Square, the Wrap Around Project has evolved into a year-round effort of the Nave Gallery, a community of local artists based in Teele Square. Its goal is to tap into Somerville’s creative community to raise both awareness and funds to fight homelessness.
This year’s holiday season sale will be accompanied in the gallery by Threads Bared, an exhibition of art inspired by fiber, which features the work of 15 local artists working with wool, silk, grass, bamboo and even plastic. The exhibit will kick off with an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 10. Both events will be celebrated with a Cupcake Reception on Saturday, November 17, which is open to the public.
“We try to make it affordable for everyone, where someone can go in, have a cupcake, buy a scarf, and feel really good that they’re helping the Homeless Coalition,” said Tori Costa, who is both curating the art exhibit and coordinating the sale. “Individuals really like the sense of community that’s happening, through participating in a sale that benefits a local organization.”
Costa said 160 or more regulars gather at monthly get-togethers to knit or crochet items for the Wrap Around project, but the number of people who donate hand-made articles to the sale is much higher still. She said the community that has developed around the project is truly multi-generational, ranging from retirees to members of a high school knitting club, and with every age in between.
Anyone wishing to contribute knitted, crocheted or sewn pieces may drop them off by this Saturday, November 10 at one of four locations: Blue Cloud Gallery, 713 Broadway in Ball Square, Magpie, 418 Highland Avenue in Davis Square, Mind’s Eye Yarns, 22 White Street in Porter Square Cambridge, or at the Nave Gallery, 155 Powderhouse Boulevard in Teele Square.
The Wrap Around Sale will be open at the Nave Gallery from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from November 10 through December 16, with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend. More information is at www.navegallery.org/wrap_around.