Wisconsin is known for its cheese and bitter cold winters. If we struggle to stay warm in our cozy, modern homes and warm clothing, imagine the plight of our homeless community, shivering out on the cold streets, exposed to the harsh elements. Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Milwaukee had a heartfelt desire to do something to ease the suffering of the homeless. A Sai Center members floated the idea of making beanies. Beanies could keep their heads and ears warm and would be an essential item for surviving harsh winters.

Immediately, there were many doubts and questions. What would it take to knit a beanie? How do we begin? How long would it take? Would Sai Center members be able to devote the time needed to make the beanies? How many beanies could we make in the next eight weeks before Thanksgiving? Most importantly, would this project gain the support of our Center members?  As usual, all the worries were for naught. When our desires to serve are rooted in the purest and most loving of intentions, the Universe will show the way and we need to be open to being guided.

The initial goal was ninety-eight beanies by Thanksgiving in honor of Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s 98th birthday. Perhaps, it was a rather lofty goal for a small Center! We decided, instead, to aim for 30 beanies by November 23 2023.  One Center member, who was skilled in knitting, patiently and lovingly taught us a crash course in basic knitting skills. She even got looms and wool to start us off. Members eagerly volunteered – children, young adults and adults. It was simple and quite addictive. Of course, mistakes were made. We had to undo and redo but that’s how one learns.

We gathered before prayers on Sundays, helped each other, shared our learning and showcased our creations. Interest grew! More and more members joined in, and we had beanies spinning out like hotcakes on a griddle! Knitting beanies while chanting prayers was indeed addictive. We couldn’t stop! The beanies were created with different patterns, but all of them had a soft touch, a feeling of warmth and brought us inexplicable happiness. Members who couldn’t knit were happy to provide yarn and looms.

As soon as we hit our original target of about 30 beanies, we decided to keep going! Enthusiasm was growing. Then we made 50 beanies, and then 80 beanies, crossed 98 beanies and finally, reached a staggering 120 beanies by Thanksgiving. Not only that, we also knitted our deepest heartfelt wishes of love and warmth into the beanies for all those who would be wearing them, praying for their safety, health and well-being.

We packed the beanies into six boxes for six homeless shelters around the Milwaukee area. The beanies were so well received. Whoever wore them felt very glad for the warmth they provided. Gratitude was openly expressed. We felt we had played a small role in addressing a very important need. We thanked the divine for blessing us with this initiative and for guiding us throughout the process!  One of the shelters that received beanies told us that they had just recently discussed how disheartened they were for not being able to give the residents a covering for their heads during the cold bitter winter. The very next day, a Sai volunteers showed up with a box full of beanies! What divine timing! We offer our most humble gratitude to Sri Sathya Sai Baba for giving us this opportunity to serve our community.