Woman combines crochet skills and compassion for those who serve

By: 
Hannah Lantzer, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo 

Utilizing her big heart and donated balls of yarn, Debbie Parady has crocheted over 300 lapghans for veterans and 140 beanie hats for active duty military personnel since mid-2017. If she can collect enough donated yarn, Parady's goal is to crochet 300 additional lapghans for charity in 2019. 

 

KALKASKA – During the past year-and-a-half, Debbie Parady, 52, of Midland has crocheted several hundred comfort items for active duty military personnel and regional veterans in need, including residents of the long-term care at Kalkaska Memorial Health Center.

After falling in love with the art of crocheting during a high school course, Parady has continued engaging in the pastime for over 30 years. She says it has become a lifelong passion.

“People laugh when they ask what I want for birthdays or Christmas because I always say either yarn or gift cards to go get more yarn,” said Parady. “It’s my thing. I do it constantly, even when I’m watching TV.”

Over time, crocheting has become more than just a hobby for Parady; it has become a therapeutic creative outlet and source of personal peace.

“It’s my therapy,” she said. “It really helps me deal with the hard times in life. It’s a big stress reliever and very healing.”

Crocheting has also helped her forge a connection within the community and allowed her to share her profound love for giving back. Parady says she has always enjoyed crocheting gift items for other people, including relatives, friends, newborn babies and local families.

Two years ago, Parady had a major surgery, which left her facing a lengthy rehabilitation.

“Everyone knew I was going to have trouble sitting still for that long, so they gave me yarn,” she said. “I began crocheting constantly, like 60-70 hours every week.”

Parady turned the gifted yarn into a thoughtful approach for maximizing her recovery time and utilizing her crochet skill set in a way that comforts others. A family friend, who is a part of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 463 of South Boardman, inspired Parady’s large-scale charity crocheting venture.

“My friend Marsha told me about all the stuff (the American Legion) does for veterans and really got me started with this project after my surgery,” said Parady of her northern Michigan friend. “Veterans give so much to all of us, so I wanted to give back in a small way too.”

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