Christmas came early at Capistrano Senior Living when Christina Puga arrived on Dec. 1 with two big baskets adorned with festive bows.
The baskets were filled with handmade woolen hats, scarves, shawls and prayer blankets, knitted by volunteers from the Mission Basilica Knitting and Crochet Ministry in San Juan Capistrano.
RESIDENTS AT CAPISTRANO SENIOR LIVING HOLD UP THEIR NEW HANDMADE GIFTS AS CHRISTINA PUGA, COORDINATOR OF MISSION BASILICA’S KNITTERS FOR THE LORD MINISTRY, LOOKS ON
They were Christmas gifts to the residents.
“We hope the gifts that were made bring comfort and warmth and remind you that you are loved,” Puga said to the residents at the time.
She also went around the room – decorated with a Christmas tree, pine garlands and ornaments hanging from the ceiling – and gave hugs along with her woolen gifts to each
“Christina is an amazing person,” said Activities Director Rogerio de Silva. “She has a good heart. It’s a very big event when she shows up, oh my goodness yes.”
Resident Betty Billstein received a scarf with a matching cap inside.
“I’m so touched that someone made something for somebody they didn’t even know,” she said. “It’s just beautiful.”
The Mission Basilica Knitting and Crochet Ministry, also known as Knitters for the Lord, has been meeting since 2011, beginning as a social service group at Mission Hospital.
Puga continued the group with her parish neighbors and become coordinator of the ministry. As many as 20 volunteers gather monthly at the Mission Basilica to knit, crochet and socialize.
The ministry creates 150-200 woolen gifts a year.
“The purpose of this ministry is to gather in friendship and fellowship,” explained Puga. “These gifts are stitches of love to be shared to comfort those who feel alone in a time of crisis due to an illness or are in a state of homelessness.”
In addition to Capistrano Senior Living, other recipients of the woolen gifts from the ministry include Mission Hospital Womens Wellness Center for women recently diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment. Until her contacts with the organization moved to Florida last year, the ministry also donated to the Wounded Warriors Project and hopes to resume the donations in the near future.
“I learned crocheting from my mother,” said volunteer Beth Gross. “I wasn’t very good at it then, but I joined the group and learned I really do enjoy it.”
De Silva said he appreciates Puga’s many services to Capistrano Senior Living.
“When she calls me, it’s always ‘What can I do for you guys?’ It seems that every time you get to know her, she always has something else to surprise you with. We’re very grateful.”