In 2011 an inmate at Folsom Prison wanted to learn to crochet and after receiving a pattern, and some yarn, he asked about donating “newborn beanies” for infants to a hospital or shelter. Hooks and Needles was born!
Hooks & Needles floundered for months working with whatever yarn they could get. More inmates got “hooked” and soon they were producing scarves and blankets to go with those beanies. The Folsom State Prison (FSP) Men’s Advisory Council (MAC) took notice and donated $500.00 from their annual fundraiser. Suddenly, over 40 inmates, all disciplinary free, were spending their down time crocheting and knitting with no expectations other than knowing their creations go to those in need. But there were no supplies. A few of these inmates had jobs and used their meager wages to purchase supplies. Some have relatives who purchase supplies for them, but primarily they are dependent on contributions.
Then in 2012 they were “adopted” by the Folsom Lake Lion’s Club. This validated the group, and their generous donations provided supplies for making beanies, scarves, blankets and recently– stuffed animals. The Lion’s Club also distributes the items to a number of facilities and organizations in the area and helps allay the fears of some recipient groups leery of items made by inmates.
The benefit of Hooks & Needles is far reaching. Within the walls of Folsom Prison the growth, pride and a giving spirit can be seen by these men of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. Their time, talent and heartfelt intent is admirable and praiseworthy. And Folsom Lake Lions, by sharing samples of the creations made with other individuals and groups, receives donations of yarn that is given to Hooks and Needles to make more items.
Then the Flying Samaritans got involved and the circle widened. Flying Samaritans also shares the need for yarn and now the items made by the men in Hooks and Needles are also given to the children in San Quentin, Mexico served by the local Mother Lode Chapter of Flying Samaritans. In addition, these items are donated to Mustard Seed School, Loaves and Fishes, Placer County Stand Down, St. John’s Shelter for Women, Crisis Nurseries, Lions Special Kids Day, and the Union Gospel Mission.