Sale to Benefit Syrian Refugees

For some, knitting is complicated ancient art. For Brian How and the English as a Second Language program (ESL), it’s a relaxing way to raise money for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

The students and How are having a hand-made hat and scarf sale, which will take place from 8 – 11 a.m. and 1 – 2 p.m. on Thursday on the second floor of the Palumbo Academic Center. All donations will go to benefit the Syrian Relief Appeal for the refugees of the war in Syria. The group previously had a sale, which took place last semester. The one-day sale raised over $1,000.

Hand-knitted hats and scarves will be available for purchase. Prices range depending on the item and the intricacy involved. Scarves will be $25, and hats will range from $15-$35. Several of the hats have the Gannon University colors, with Gannon knitted on one side and Gannon in Arabic on the other side. There will also be hats for children available as well. Cash, credit and debit will all be accepted.

The proceeds go directly to the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the world’s largest humanitarian organization that provides assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or public opinion, according to the organization’s website. The students picked this organization because many have family and friends located in that area and they wished to do something to help, How said.

The donations are a charitable contribution that allows people to honor their faith together, in a combined, interfaith way, according to How. Not only does this embrace the message of Christianity and Islam, religions that both call practicing participants to help the less fortunate, but it also embraces the mission of Gannon as well.

“It’s such a simple thing to do, but like a lot of simple things it relates to many, many important things,” How said. “It allows you to bring learning and relaxing, with some beauty, into life in a quiet and contemplative way.”

The group started about a year ago, according to How. He was looking for a way to bring students in the ESL program together by having more interaction between each and every one. How taught many of the students to knit and those who already knew who were encouraged to participate.

Haiyan Zhang, a graduate MBA student who came to the U.S. just six months ago, said that while she did know how to knit because of her mother, How wants to teach as many students as possible how to.

According to Zhang, How is “a very nice teacher” who wants to help students learn how to knit and realize how easy it really is.

Zhang also said that the sale is important because it not only allows people to purchase warm accessories, it is also for a good cause.

“First, the weather is very cold so people need hats,” Zhang said. “All are handmade, warm and the quality is very good. At the same time, we can use the income to help people. This event has good significance.”

How said that the art of knitting as an extremely personal and caring process, which he very much enjoys.

“The process of knitting something for someone causes you to think of warmth, consideration and love during the whole process,” How said. “It’s a loving thing to do.”

While the group of students isn’t an official club, anyone, including faculty, staff and students, are encouraged to join the current members. The point of the sessions, according to How, is “to make a community” by bridging together “different faiths, ages, genders, cultures and languages.” If anyone is interested in future participation, contact Brian How at [email protected]



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