Former legislator knitting slippers for homeless veterans

Knitting slippers for homeless veterans
Bruce Farrin/Sun Journal

Former Maine representative Sheryl Briggs is working to deliver 75 pairs of hand-knitted slippers for homeless veterans.

Sheryl Briggs is on a mission — to deliver 75 pairs of hand-knitted slippers to veterans at the annual Homeless Veteran Stand Down in October.

The Stand Down is open to homeless and in-need veterans and their families. All services and items are provided free of charge.

Briggs got to know about this program as a state representative in 2011 and has been a volunteer ever since.

Veterans attending the event are given a care package that includes a sleeping bag, their boots, a toiletries packet and a bagged lunch, Briggs said.

She thought about adding hand-knitted slippers to the care packages. "My slippers are light. They don't take up any space. Why couldn't I make these slippers for the veterans?"

She contacted event coordinator Susie Wittington, who thought it was a great idea.

Briggs has 20 pairs of slippers knitted thus far.

Karen Barrett, a seamstress from Mexico, has a knitting club whose members have agreed to knit slippers as well, Briggs said.

Briggs invites the community to assist her in knitting the slippers, or they can donate the yarn. She has the pattern for the slippers to give out as well. Those interested in participating can call her at 207-364-5665.

Thousands of veterans and their families have received assistance through the Stand Down event, which provides counseling and substance abuse referrals, employment and training, health care, housing and legal services, wellness activities and a career fair.

Veterans and their families are also be able to receive free clothing, meals, haircuts and personal care items. There are also giveaways and raffle items.

Stand Down is a term that originated during the Vietnam War used to describe the practice of removing combat troops from the field and taking care of their basic needs in a safe area.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the Stand Down was “a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations” where troops had access to clean uniforms, warm meals, medical and dental care, mail and camaraderie, all in a safe environment.