Yarn for the Giving: Cookies & Camaraderie

philanthropic cookiesWhen Vivian Bolt, president of the Greater Boston Knitting Guild (GBKG), discusses the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization she helms, the warmth of her pride is apparent. More than 150 members strong, this local knitting guild is a recognized philanthropic force in the Boston community, and it shows no sign of slowing down. The guild’s reach, and that of all the items the members lovingly knit, continues to grow.

The support that the GBKG has shown for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s “Caps for Kids” program is a prime example. Each year, GBKG members create and donate hundreds of knitted and crocheted caps, scarves, and gloves. In 2015, the GBKG donated 1,540 items. Of the total number of donations to Caps for Kids that year—13,630—the GBKG was responsible for almost 12 percent.

Caps for Kids is our largest initiative,” Bolt explains, “but the knitting we do for infants at Mass General and the costumes that we create for Plimoth Plantation are also a part of our mission.” Massachusetts General takes donated items into its multiple newborn family units. In 2015, the GBKG made almost 700 sweaters, blankets, booties, and hats. Plimoth Plantation seeks to educate the public on the Wampanoag people and the Colonial English community of the 1600s. The GBKG creates mittens, hats, garters, stockings, and waistcoats every year for this nonprofit.

With all of this work done in the name of knitting kindness, it would appear that the GBKG’s plate is full. Monthly meetings, held at Boston’s historic Trinity Church, always feature a speaker who addresses a knit-centric topic. Because educating members is a consistent focus, workshops are included. “Knitters and crocheters should learn from each other,” Bolt says. “Our advanced members often act as knitting doctors for others who are beginning.” Attendance for the monthly meetings approaches 100 percent, with members who don’t live locally sometimes flying in.

However, knitting is not the only tradition the GBKG nurtures. The annual cookie recipe competition has been going almost as long as the guild has been in place. Members take on the challenge to win in such categories as “Best Use of Alcohol” and “Most Creative.” But the ultimate prize, “Best Overall Cookie,” is the coveted achievement. Characterizing the competition as a “good old-fashioned cookie swap,” Bolt admits that the treats rarely make it home from the December meeting.

When it comes to knitting, history passed on from one generation to the next can often drive interest. Beyond that, the success of the GBKG demonstrates that knitters deeply rooted in philanthropy, community, and friendship can positively affect the lives of others, one stitch at a time.


Mocha Peanut Butter Chunk Drop Cookies

Winner of Best Overall Cookie, 2015—Recipe compliments of Peggy Dixon

6 Tbsp softened butter
1⁄3 C shortening
½ C light brown sugar, packed
1⁄3 C granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1 C flour
1⁄3 C cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
8 oz peanut butter–filled baking pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat butter and shortening together until well blended. Add sugars, mix well. Add egg and vanilla, beating until well blended. Stir dry ingredients together and beat into butter mixture. Stir in baking pieces. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake 10–12 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.


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