Vineyards at Lake Keowee ladies ‘Tie One On’ to spread warmth

EASLEY — Seven years ago, Vineyards at Lake Keowee resident Kay Schultz wanted to do something to support her new community.

Like many newcomers to Pickens County, Schultz was shocked to discover how many children were living in poverty and how many people were being served by Meals on Wheels.

When she learned a blanket tying technique using the softest fleece, an idea was hatched. Why not organize her neighbors and make blankets for children and the elderly?

Being a fun-loving group, they called themselves “Tie One On.” For the next few years, the ladies met around the holidays, and eventually each month, to make blankets for local charities.

United Way director Julie Capaldi and the “Tie One On” ladies of the Vineyards at Lake Keowee enjoy a drink as they make blankets for those in need.

United Way director Julie Capaldi and the “Tie One On” ladies of the Vineyards at Lake Keowee enjoy a drink as they make blankets for those in need.

Because United Way director Julie Capaldi was knowledgeable about Pickens County, she was invited to be a part of the group. While sitting around the dining room table each month, Capaldi had the opportunity to educate the women about the most pressing needs in Pickens County. The list of blanket needs grew to include the elderly, impoverished children and homeless families with children.

Eventually Schultz moved to Atlanta, but her legacy did not move with her. Mary Steele and Cathy Rogers took over the project, and on Jan. 11 the 1,000th blanket rolled off the dining room table and into the arms of someone who desperately needed a warm hug.

Someone like three children that school district family liaison Cindy Burgess helped after a house fire destroyed everything they owned. Burgess met the family at their grandmother’s house, where they were living temporarily.

“The sadness was written on the children’s faces,” she said. “When I handed them each a soft new blanket of their own, they immediately grabbed them and just hugged on them. It meant so much to them to have something soft and comforting to hold that belonged just to them after losing everything.”

Family liaison Whitney Moore also finds the blankets incredibly important in her work.

“There was one family that I helped last year that needed a bed,” she said. “The little girl’s bed had a hole in the mattress, and her brother was sleeping on a couch in his room. Through United Way’s Ron Webber fund, I was able to purchase new beds, and through Tie One On, I gave each child a new a fleece blanket. They were so excited.”

According to Capaldi, an active and engaged volunteer is the key to a vibrant community.

“Whether driving for Meals on Wheels, organizing food baskets for the elderly, serving on local boards or organizing programs for local schools, Pickens County is lucky to have a community so devoted to making life better for everyone,” she said.