Orange knitting group handcrafts 190 pairs of socks for Ukrainian soldiers

Lina Bernstein, left, is assisting her sister-in-law Katherine Erwin, of Orange, to deliver socks to Ukrainian soldiers through RememberUs.org. Erwin and other knitters of the Dragonfly Sock Knitters crafted the socks in their Orange storefront studio.

Lina Bernstein, left, is assisting her sister-in-law Katherine Erwin, of Orange, to deliver socks to Ukrainian soldiers through RememberUs.org. Erwin and other knitters of the Dragonfly Sock Knitters crafted the socks in their Orange storefront studio. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Small sock key chains are being sold to raise money to send socks, made by the Dragonfly Sock Knitters in Orange, to soldiers in Ukraine.

Small sock key chains are being sold to raise money to send socks, made by the Dragonfly Sock Knitters in Orange, to soldiers in Ukraine. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Lina Bernstein, left, is assisting her sister-in-law Katherine Erwin, of Orange, to deliver socks to Ukrainian soldiers through RememberUs.org. Erwin and other knitters of the Dragonfly Sock Knitters created the socks and small key chains in their Orange storefront studio.

Lina Bernstein, left, is assisting her sister-in-law Katherine Erwin, of Orange, to deliver socks to Ukrainian soldiers through RememberUs.org. Erwin and other knitters of the Dragonfly Sock Knitters created the socks and small key chains in their Orange storefront studio. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 10-13-2023 6:17 PM

ORANGE — A group of North Quabbin women have worked their fingers to the bone to help the Ukrainian people stand up for their country.

The Dragonfly Sock Knitters joined forces with a Pennsylvania knitting group to craft about 190 pairs of wool socks to send to the besieged Eastern European nation as its military battles against an unprovoked Russian invasion approaching its 600th day. No stranger to charitable efforts, the Orange group, led by Katherine Erwin, was asked to knit as many socks as possible as a favor to her sister-in-law, Lina Bernstein, who swung by Wednesday morning to pick them up on her way to Belmont for a meeting of RememberUs.org, a group of American and Ukrainian volunteers working to help Ukraine.

“I would side with anybody trying to fight [Vladimir] Putin’s aggression,” Erwin said. “The world cannot bend toward Putin. We need to bend toward democracy.”

The socks are thick and woolen and made from yarn dyed blue and yellow, representing the Ukrainian flag.

“That little act of knitting socks is my little piece of what I can do,” Erwin said.

Bernstein, who lives in Plainfield, said this effort started in the winter when she and her husband David found themselves with an overabundance of jackets and decided to donate them to Ukraine. She started researching online and found RememberUs.org. Bernstein received a list of items Ukrainians need, which includes toys, warm clothes and socks. This prompted her to reach out to her sister-in-law, who lives in Athol and operates The Gathering Place at 24 South Main St. in Orange.

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“They’re thick, they’re beautiful, they have Ukrainian colors, which is very touching,” Bernstein said about the socks. “I didn’t expect this terrific result.”

According to its website, RememberUs.org was founded in 2013 to honor and commemorate those who died in the Holocaust. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, however, the registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit has switched its mission to providing humanitarian aid to those in war zones in Ukraine.

“We will restart all our programs immediately after the victory!” the website states.

Julia Korsunsky, the organization’s co-founder and executive director, said warm clothing is highly valuable to soldiers because winters in Ukraine are very harsh, but the destruction of entire communities has resulted in people needing “absolutely everything.” Tetiana Kysla, one of RememberUs.org’s Ukrainian volunteers, said her fellow citizens now wake up every day not knowing if it will be their last, and colleague Oleksii Kobieliev mentioned the Ukrainian government is trying to help everyone, but volunteers are stepping up and going to the devastated areas closest to the front line because there are limitations to what the government can do.

Bernstein explained she has a special connection to this cause because she was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States 43 years ago.

“I feel very much ashamed of what Russia is doing,” she said. “It’s horrible, just horrible. Just unpardonable.”

Erwin said the Dragonfly Sock Knitters were provided $1,000 worth of sock yarn by Shirley Walsh and Virginia Goldbach, whose Pennsylvania knitting group contributed woolen socks of its own. Erwin said she became acquainted with Walsh when she first bought sock yarn from Walsh’s Etsy store around 2008. The knitting group, Erwin said, meets in Orange three times a week and serves as an ongoing Relay For Life donation center, having lost one of its original members to cancer. Erwin said their socks have raised $15,000 for cancer research.

More information and a way to donate are available at rememberus.org.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.