Sandi Allen’s finances unraveled in September.
The 57-year-old Salem woman lives on a federal disability check of $680 per month, and she’d spent $425 on rent, much of the remainder on utilities and $20 for a monthly bus pass.
She had already used up her $200 monthly food stamp allocation and there was still a week left in the month. Desperate, she turned to a local food bank for an emergency food box to bridge the gap. Occasionally, she picks up odd jobs demonstrating food or selling crafts online, but last month, she was hanging on by a thread. She had to ask for help.
It was the first time she’d resorted to using a food donation in more than 15 years.
“I try to stretch it out, but with food prices going up, I just ran out,” Allen said.
She went to sleep that night thinking about food boxes, and when slumber came, she dreamed of giving something back to the food bank. When she woke, she knew exactly how she would repay the generosity of others.
“I dreamt I crocheted a chain of yarn,” Allen said. “A really long chain of yarn.”
While it wasn’t immediately clear to me how wool, cotton or acrylic fiber spun into strands would aid the hungry, Allen was patient.
She explained that she’s hoping the community will help sponsor each foot of a 14,000-foot-long crocheted chain to represent the number of children who eat from an emergency food box each month in Marion and Polk counties. Her math was backed up by Eileen DiCicco, the grants and communications officer for Marion-Polk Food Share.
“We need to re-prioritize what’s important in our community,” Allen said. “Feeding kids is important. This is a basic need; consumers worrying about the price of a movie ticket going up is not.”
Allen started her chain this week, and by late Thursday afternoon, her nimble fingers had already hooked nearly 2,000 feet, and collected close to a couple of hundred dollars. She’s asking the public, one person at a time, to donate $5 per foot. She estimates that she can crochet one foot every 30 seconds, so she expects to create between 800 to 900 feet per day. Working about 8 hours per day, her goal is to work enough days to have the project completed by Nov. 19 — in time to help feed needy Mid-Valley families for Thanksgiving.