By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
“Does someone have a green ink pad?”
“Have you got anything for me to color?”
“Has anyone seen the M&Ms?”
These were snippets of the conversation overheard at a recent gathering of 50 North’s Color and Chat group. In addition to lots of chatting and laughter, members were merrily crafting handmade greeting cards that will make their way to military personnel and veterans this holiday season.
“I feel like they’re going to love these,” said Lynn Parmelee, volunteer coordinator for the group.
“And they’re going to like them even better because they’re homemade,” Kay Youngs agreed.
The group, surrounded by stickers, stamps, markers and colored pencils, spent three Thursdays in November working on the project. In all, they completed 202 cards that will be distributed through the American Red Cross’ Holiday for Heroes program.
The Color and Chat group began meeting two years ago, partly because of the growing popularity of the adult coloring craze. “And partly because I love to color and I don’t want to color by myself,” Parmelee laughed.
The core of the group numbers about eight women who range in age from 59 to 79. They meet from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursdays.
“This is pretty much the basic group, but we do have several that couldn’t make it today that regularly come. But we’re open to lots of people,” said Parmelee.
She noted that people have been generous donating supplies for the group.
“We have baskets with coloring books and all kinds of coloring supplies. So people, if they want to come and just join us to color, we have everything they need,” she said.
Two years ago, member Cindy Buckingham suggested that they take a break from coloring and instead make Christmas cards for veterans. For many, they feel, it’s the least they can do.
“They’re paying the price for our freedom,” Buckingham said.
“We love our veterans and we appreciate them,” said Wendy Hollister. “We’re allowed to do this because they gave us that right.”
Last year’s effort produced 135 cards.
This year, the colorists got to work a few weeks early. At this session the women, many dressed in festive holiday sweatshirts, surrounded several large tables. Handmade cards were stacked about in various stages of completion. Some had been stamped and were waiting to be colored. Others were colored, waiting for a greeting to be written inside. And some were finished, except for the special “50 North” stamp that would be added to the back.
“Rhoda (Nunley) for us today is taking and stamping on them the ’50 North’ so that people know where they came from because it says Findlay, Ohio,” said Parmelee.
The group was given certain guidelines to follow, according to the Red Cross, such as no glitter or items that might become detached.
“They go to veterans’ hospitals, so they make sure that nothing is going to come loose,” Parmelee explained. “And they want general holiday cards because you have people of different faiths.”
“I love this project. It’s fun,” said Kay Youngs as she colored in a stamped bird to be added to the front of a card. “It’s nice getting out of the house and I love coloring, so it’s kind of fun to do it with a group of people.”
“The people at 50 North, we all are very aware of our generation and we’re very community-minded as an organization and as a group. So if somebody brings us an idea and says, ‘Hey, this would be great for the community’, somebody’s going to jump in on it,” said Parmelee. “And if it has anything to do with crafts and coloring, this group will do it.”
When they’re not making greeting cards, the group colors and sometimes does other crafts. Hollister, who is a longtime scrapbooker, taught the women how to make gift bags.
The women have all become friends as well, and occasionally get together outside of the center.
“This has become a friends’ group,” said Parmelee. “We all have each other’s phone numbers, and if anybody needs anything, somebody will pick up and help.”
“I feel like I have another family here,” added Glennda Steinicki. “I was drug here by a friend. I was not going to come and sit out here with all these old people. It wasn’t on my list of things to do. Now I thank her every time I see her.”