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8/3/2012 Mike Orazzi | Staff Knitter Josephine Kulak,94, in New Britain. *** for a Justin story **
An elderly woman happily knitting while watching TV might not strike you as anything out of the ordinary. It seems like a common hobby among those of a certain age.
But, Josephine Kulak does it for a different reason.
As part of a program called, ‘Bundles for Ukraine,’ Kulak knits about 100 hats each year in her New Britain home that go to Ukrainian orphanages to help children in need.
“She has the hands of an angel,” said Rev. Father Andrey Pokotylo, of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, which hosts the program. “She is doing God’s work.”
Kulak, 94, knits from her rocking chair with a yarn-box at her side frequently taking breaks to cope with her arthritis. She says that despite the pain, it is still worth while for the sake of the children.
“I know I’m helping the children and I enjoy doing it,” said Kulak, a U.S.-born citizen who has resided in New Britain for the past 69 years after her parents emigrated from Poland.
Kulak’s generous knitting started after Joyce Dygus, a friend of her daughter’s, saw on the church bulletin that the program needed someone with her talent. Last year was Kulak’s first time participating in the program and after a successful run she decided that she wants to continue
“I’ll keep on doing them as long as they need them,” said Kulak.
Joan Kerelejza, chairperson of St. Mary’s, said the hats are shipped every fall along with other donations such as toys and candy, in order to arrive in time for St. Nicholas Day in December, which is a major gift-giving holiday for orthodox countries.
She said that the donations go out to primarily two types of children: Those who are still suffering the aftermath birth defects of the Chernobyl disaster, a nuclear accident that occurred in the Ukraine in 1986, and children who are abandoned by their parents due to poverty.
Kulak’s daughter, Claudia, saidys that her mother has finished knitting all the hats that will go out this fall and is already working on the ones for next year.
“I’m just so grateful that she can help and know that she is contributing to the welfare of a lot of children,” said Claudia.