The Italian American Club of Livonia has received much support from its surrounding community since its inception 40 years ago.

As a “thank you,” the wives of some members are active participants in its Loving Hands and Hearts Knit and Crochet Group, organized 10 years ago by club member Betty Paglione of Livonia. The purpose of the group is to use their needleart skills collectively to help needy individuals living in the area with donations of items to keep them warm – things like hats, scarves and lap throws.

“The community has been very supportive of our club, and this is just one way to give back to our community. There’s a lot of needy residents everywhere, and some new mothers are in need of items when they take their babies home from the hospital,” said Livonia resident Connie Vassallo, the group’s current leader, along with co-leaders Teresa Peruchietti of Dearborn Heights and Carmela Sgroi of Livonia.

“Each piece that’s complete and turned in gets a little tag so the recipient knows where the work came from,” she added. The tag is attached with a silk ribbon and reads, “Made with care, especially for you, by the Loving Hands and Hearts Knit and Crochet Group of the Italian American Club of Livonia.”

Sgroi, 95, is responsible for attaching the tags to the donated items. She’s also credited with having made the most hats among all the other members in 2016. She knitted 50 adult size hats, mostly in dark colors, because she wanted to make sure men in need were not forgotten. All of the group’s hats were donated to the Hope Cancer Center at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia.

Members usually buy their own yarn to work with, but yarn donations are readily accepted. Acrylic yarn is prefered because it’s machine washable. Donations usually come from members of the group, as well as others in the Italian American Club of Livonia who are aware of the knitters’ and crocheters’ mission to help others. Sometimes money is donated in place of yarn. “I’ll sometimes put a note in the (Italian American Club of Livonia) newsletter about donations,” said Vassallo, who writes a column for the monthly bulletin.

Items made throughout the year are collected and stored away until the Christmas holiday when they’re sorted and placed in large, colorful gift bags to be distributed to nursing homes and hospitals in Livonia and its surrounding area. including C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and the St. Louis Center in Chelsea, a “residential, family living and learning environment providing for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD),” reads its website.

Vassallo said, “We try to keep donations in our area, and we take a couple bags to each (facility) that we go to.”

The 25 members range in age from 60-95, and meet for knitting and crocheting sessions in the lower level of the Italian American Club (39200 Five Mile, Livonia) the first Tuesday of each month, from 1-3 p.m., except during July and August, when some of the ladies travel to Italy for summer vacation. And, twice a year, in June and December, they get together for an enjoyable lunch outing.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Contact Loving Hands and Hearts Knit and Crochet Group of the Italian American Club of Livonia at

Read or Share this story: