If you want a peek inside the barn on opening days, this is where you'll find it. I'm Leanne Hunt and I've been attending opening days twice a month since 2017 with my driver Bongi and my guide dog Tango. Here is where I record what I see and hear for the benefit of overseas members who don't have the opportunity I do. I trust you'll find it interesting.

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What a wonderful vista!!

Thank you for another peek into the KAS barn, Leanne.  You bring it all to life so beautifully.  I didn't know what a podcast was until Andrea enlightened me :)  It sounds like it will be a good way to raise awareness.  I look forward to being able to listen to it.

How super to have a visit from Amy!!!  It must have been a fun day ... xo

Thank you for sharing news of Amy and Richard's visit to the KAS Barn, Leanne. What a treat!! 

Sounds like a busy day, Leanne. I look forward to listening to the podcast. How wonderful to see the empty shelves filled up with so many blankets.

February in Johannesburg is an extremely hot month and yesterday was no exception. Bongi and I travelled to the barn without Tango because we needed the space in the car for a load of blankets intended for a distribution near my home. Besides Tango, Mabel was also absent, but the rest of the volunteers were all present and lots of Square-matching got done.
There were several big boxes from Croatia and some other post to sort, but most of the time was spent clearing the table of nearly 100 piles of squares which, for whatever reason, hadn't yet found their way into blanket packs. Generally, this happens when squares come in that are much smaller or much larger than the required 8 x 8 inches,or 20 x 20 centimetres. Sometimes they are hard to match because they are an unusual yarn wait, or because they are more rectangular then Square.. Just a reminder to please keep to the regular size as much as possible.
If, for some reason, you have a collection of different-sized squares, we advise holding them back until you have enough for a complete blanket. As long as there are enough squares for a 40 x 56 inch/100 x 140 centimetre blanket, it is fine.
Another request from the volunteers is that hand-warmers not be tied together with yarn. Please rather tuck one hand-warmer into the other. This makes sorting much quicker.
Ronda shared with me a lovely new idea inspired by Amy‘s visit. We have several very large bears which have not been handed out because they are so much bigger than the average toy handed out at distributions. We will, in future, be taking extra large soft toys to teachers and handing them over as "Comfort Bears". The idea is that the bear/toy can keep an unhappy child company at pre-school. Thus, if a child is grieving the loss of a family member or has scraped his knee, he or she can be comforted by a special, non-judgemental friend.
In telling me about this, Ronda was reminded of a doll which arrived in the mail in2015. She was handmade out of fabric with blonde hair fashioned from yarn and special silk panties. After thinking about where to donate the doll, KAS eventually gave her to a rape counselling service in Benoni which dealt with children. The organisation was over the moon with the donation and the doll, named Rosie, helped the children enormously to talk about what had happened to them without feeling utterly alone in their pain.
Finally, an update on the Knit-a-Square podcast: I have been recording interviews with various people at the barn and liaising with Sandy McDonald about setting up a page on the KAS website. There will be a podcast player right there on the page so you won't need a podcast app to listen if you don't already have one. I hope to have the first episode edited and launched by the end of the month, so watch this space!

Leanne, I'm looking forward to listening to the podcast.  Thank you for investing your time to bring us closer to what goes on behind the scenes at KAS!

Thank you for the update from the Barn, Leanne. Always good to have a reminder about how to make things flow well for all the lovely volunteers in the Barn.

I look forward to listening to the podcast and thank you so much for thinking of we techy challenged folk who don't 'do' apps.  :))

As I write this, the whole world seems to be on alert for news about the Coronavirus. One of the things that has concerned people is whether the virus can be transmitted in parcels coming through the post. We have been assured that the Coronavirus isn't robust enough to lie dormant for months. It is, rather, only able to live outside a carrier for a very short time and then only under ideal conditions. We need have no fear, therefore, that the parcels arriving at the barn could be infected.
Even so, Ronda wants to do everything she can to protect the volunteers. She supplied anti septic hand wipes for everyone to use while packing and unpacking. South Africa has no recorded incidence of the COVID-19 disease but it is worth developing the habit of sanitising our hands regularly because that situation could change any time.
On a brighter note, the barn buzzed with activity yesterday as the volunteers worked through piles of new parcels from the USA, UK, Canada, Croatia, Australia and Ireland. Several completed blankets emerged from boxes which elicited gasps of delight and wonder. Estelle carried around an array of cute little bears dressed in hand made trousers, tops and skirts. Bongi bundled up the second batch of blankets, beanies, handwarmers and toys for her distribution to an inner-city orphanage. Athele and Estelle worked on completing their preparation for the upcoming Clarens distribution. Wandi and Themba took items to a creche in Kagiso.
In addition, we had several people drop into the barn to fetch and deliver things. Anna came in with 16 gorgeous blankets,, mostly in heavy yarn and therefore ideal for Clarens. Linda arrived to collect wool and oddly-shaped squares for Liz, a loyal member of KAS who is presently too ill to come in herself. Ruth arrived just as I was leaving so I wasn’t able to chat to her, except to learn that she is out from London on holiday and has visited the barn at least once before.
Ronda told me that Sister Sue from the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has been phoning regularly, eager to receive more premie hats and baby blankets for the antenatal clinic. As mentioned before, we don’t focus specifically on baby items but do keep them aside when they come in. Although we can’t take photographs of the distribution or report on it on the forum, there is no doubt that The items that go to Baragwanath will be well used.
We have made a decision to send the beanies which are too large for our preschool children to our gogos to keep them warm as the weather grows colder. At present, we have 12 active gogo groups and they do an amazing job. Giving the gogos beanies will solve our problem of sitting with items that can't go to small children, and it will also enable us to show our appreciation to them without dipping further into our finances.
News on the podcast front is that I have found somebody with professional editing experience to help me assemble audio tracks properly. With all the interviews I’ve been doing, I have material for at least three episodes and it is just a matter of Recording the introduction, middle section and ending before all the parts can be combined and released. It occurred to me that I can include an advertisement for the KAS store. In this way, I hope to bring new visitors to the KAS website, expose them to pictures of the children, grow our membership, and boost financial support for our work.

adoreable bears!

Thank you for another newsy account from The Barn, Leanne.

I think it is an excellent idea to send the overly large beanies to the Gogos, after all, they do so much for so little remuneration.

From what I have read on the Coronavirus, it can only survive a matter of hours on surfaces, etc.

Thank you so much for all the work and organizing you have been doing for the podcast/s. 



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