HOUSTON — United Airlines employees at George Bush Intercontinental Airport donated more than their time Tuesday at the terminal. Volunteers met to organize donations they’ve collected to help keep Houston’s homeless population warm this winter, which is now part of their yearly tradition.
For Gretchen Benson and her mom, Pat, crocheting is now part of their nightly routine.
“She comes to my house and at night when we’re watching TV, I start it, she finishes it for me," Benson said.
Crocheting is like a family heirloom for them, a skill that has been passed down through generations. Now, it’s being used to keep people warm.
“It just gives you a good feeling inside to know that you helped somebody else," Benson said.
This year, the mother-daughter duo crocheted over 100 scarves for Houston’s homeless. They weren’t the only ones.
“I’m going to say we went up to probably 400 hats and scarves that were crocheted this year," United Airlines employee Mirtalis Mendez said.
As a way to pass time during the pandemic, United Airlines employees started crocheting in the terminal, all to help collect donations for their annual "Share the Warmth" event, which the employees themselves started seven years ago.
“We all got together and started crocheting and people would walk by and say, 'Well, I don’t have anything to do while I'm waiting for my flight, can I join you?'” Mendez said. "It has become this incredible, amazing project where we have touched so many lives."
On Tuesday, they collected enough handmade scarves and hats, socks, gloves, blankets and hygiene kits to make about 400 care packages to give to a group of people who may sometimes be forgotten during the holidays.
“I think it’s very important for us as a community to share all the great things that we have and this was a great chance to do it," Mendez said.
From the airport, the volunteers will partner with Star of Hope to hand-deliver the donations in person.