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"Pleasanton Shop Knits Bears for Children in Africa"
Published in the Tri Valley Herald

There may be no cure yet for HIV/AIDS, but there is at least a temporary cure for the sadness that children with the disease endure. And a number of local people with a talent for knitting are working on spreading their love to children in Africa with HIV/AIDS.

Through the downtown Pleasanton store Knit This, Purl That!, a couple hundred local residents, mainly from the Tri-Valley and neighboring cities such as Castro Valley and Fremont, are joining in the Mother Bear Project.

The nonprofit organization sells patterns that can be used to knit or crochet teddy bears to send to countries such as South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda, among others.

Beth Spisak, owner of Knit This, Purl That!, said she wanted to get involved in a service project that incorporated knitting. "I liked the idea," said Spisak, a Pleasanton resident. "It was a good project."

The Mother Bear Project, based in Minneapolis, has already received a couple hundred pattern orders from Valley residents who heard about the project through the Pleasanton store. "The response has been unbelievable," Spisak said.

A knitter's pattern costs $5.00 for the first one and $3.00 for each additional one. Each pattern comes with a tag the knitter can personalize and attach to the bear. The money from the patterns is used to ship the bears to Africa. Knit This, Purl That! has a weekly "Sit and Knit" group that typically costs $5 per session, but through the end of August, the Wednesday night Sit and Knits will feature the Mother Bear Project and no admission fee will be charged.

Knitters are also welcome to work on bears at home and bring them to the shop during other times. Spisak hopes to collect at least 100 bears by December to send to the Mother Bear Project.

She is also considering getting a local middle or high school's knitting club to participate. "This is so easy that the children can do it," said Spisak, who just picked up knitting about five years ago. "I think it's important to teach your kids to give back.

" Anyone who knows the basic knitting stitch is likely to have no problem with the teddy bears, which are made with a World War II-era pattern. Crochet patterns for teddy bears can also be purchased.

San Ramon resident Shannon Taylor joined the Sit and Knit on Wednesday to work on a teddy bear. Taylor said she is relatively new to knitting and felt that even those with not much experience can participate. "It's super, super easy — strictly beginner," Taylor said. Pleasanton resident Rita Leavens has been knitting for about 45 years. She said she wanted to do the Mother Bear Project after getting an e-mail from the store. "It was for a good cause," Leavens said. "I thought it would be fun, too."

                                            Mother Bear Project • PO Box 62188 • Minneapolis, MN 55426 • Email Contact