Stitches of Love makes it, gives it

Charity group’s members live throughout the Miami Valley.

Contact this contributing writer at

Marty Sakal of Washington Twp. has no grandkids, but she gets her “grandma fix” by crocheting newborn baby hats. Over the past couple of years, she estimates she has created about 650 of them. She’s a member of Stitches of Love, a charity involving about 22 women from all over the Miami Valley: Beavercreek, Bellbrook, Centerville, Dayton, Englewood, Fairborn, Huber Heights, Kettering, Lebanon, Miamisburg, Middletown and Tipp City.

Most of the group’s baby hats end up in the maternity wing of Miami Valley South Hospital. Her first introduction to crocheting, however, was not a good one.

“My grandma started teaching me to crochet when I was 8, and I hated it. My mother taught me to knit and I used to make my own sweaters in high school,” said Sakal, 70. “When I got married Sears had a class on crocheting, but my chain stitches got tighter and tighter ending up in a point. My mother-in-law said to put that corner behind the couch.”

Around the time she retired seven years ago, she read about a group called Craft for a Cause, and kept the article. A few months later she joined, and shortly after that, the group changed it’s name to Stitches of Love.

The members meet the first Saturday of each month at Memorial Presbyterian Church on Smithville Road in Dayton. The Presbytery funds the group, and they deliver the items they’ve made as a group and one their own twice a year, in May and November.

The group also sews bereavement blankets and tiny newborn outfits. Some of the items are delivered to Southview Medical Center in Miamisburg.

“Our donations are kept anonymous, but when I was crocheting waiting on a hair appointment recently, I found out a beautician’s daughter was expecting,” said Sakal. “She ended up with one of our group’s crocheted baby hats. We get thank you notes from families and nurses.”

Sakal not only is an active member of the group, she has had a large part in growing the charity. She recruited eight of her neighbors who joined. That makes the Stitches of Love president, Helen Gowdy, very happy.

“The women in this group are like-minded, all there because they enjoy serving and doing for others,” said Gowdy, a Kettering resident. ”We enjoy the feeling of giving back to the community. It really is more blessed to give than receive and we provide to those who are in need.”

They’ve made pillowcases for military personnel on the USS Nimitz, Christmas hats and stockings, angel ornaments, prayer shawls, chemo hats, quilts, tote bags, stuffed toys and lap robes, among other things.

Besides the hospitals, they donate to Project Linus, Military Family Ministries, Miami Valley Social Services, VA Center, Southview Medical Center/First Steps program, Agape for Youth, Hannah’s Treasure Chest, Heads at Ease, Tri-Health Cancer Unit. They recently added Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek.

“We have a couple of girls from Oakwood schools who are working on community service points and they come and help us count and pack up the items. Our November count was over 5,000 items,” Gowdy said.

About the Author