A couple of years ago, Marie Koehler called up the Wallenpaupack North Primary School and asked, "How do I volunteer? I want to help the kids." She had retired from being an office manager in city government in New Jersey, and moved to Hemlock Farms several years before. So head teacher Mrs. Genello suggested the library, and put her in touch with librarian Caroline Romano.
She loved helping the kindergarten students with their writing, and was gratified to watch their progress as they moved into first grade. But her greatest gifts of time were devoted to those children who always needed more. She had no grandkids of her own, so it was these students to whom she especially showed her love.
As the holiday season approached that first year, she noticed many students coming in from recess with red cheeks and hands, since they had no gloves, mittens, or scarves. So she asked her friends in the Hemlock Farms "Happy Hookers" knitting club to knit mittens and scarves to be distributed by the school nurse as needed. Last year she and her husband Ed excitedly brought in 44 pairs of mittens and dozens of scarves. "It was one of her happiest days at school to just come and leave them," Ms. Romano remembers, "and I am sure that smile lasted for weeks."
In June of this year, the woman who became known as "Grandma Marie" contracted pneumonia and passed away. Her friends in the "Happy Hookers" decided her love would continue. They will be making mittens and scarves and filling up a box for the winter months ahead, remembering that open-hearted smile and thinking of Grandma Marie and her adopted grandchildren.