In the skilled hands of Peggy Keiser, yarn transforms into colorful gestures of love for a child in need. It’s the latest measure of a lifetime of generosity – one that life at Homeland Center helps her continue.
Peggy and her son, Rusty, came to Homeland in 2018 and quickly joined in their new home’s life and daily activities. Most days, you can find her in either the Gathering Room or her airy personal care suite, lovingly knitting sweater vests for 3- and 4-year-old children.
All the expertly knitted vests – more than 50 since 2019 – are donated to social service agencies, which distribute them to families in need of warm clothing.
For Peggy – who served as secretary for 10 Susquehanna Township School District superintendents over her 65-year career – knitting has been part of her life since childhood. She learned from her mother and taught her daughter, Sandra Daily. After retiring from Susquehanna School District in 2011, she joined her church knitting group, where she began making the tiny vests for children in need.
She has a talent for unique color combinations, whether highlighting a vest in teal shades with a crisp white collar or using a contrast of blue to turn a self-striping red and white yarn into an American flag.
“She combines colors from odds and ends of yarn in her closet,” said her daughter, who serves on the Homeland Board of Managers. “To me, that is amazing.”
Every vest that Peggy knits always comes together so well. Peggy knits most days of the week, but takes a break on Sunday’s.
“She’s always told me because that’s the way it was in her family,” says Sandra. “They don’t do anything on Sunday.”
Peggy is motivated by a lifetime of service which continues uninterrupted at Homeland.
“She likes the fact that she’s giving to somebody else,” said Sandra, who finds social service agencies to distribute the vests. “Mother has always been that way.”
“Oh, yes!” Peggy chimed in. “I do that. People, people, people.”
Here’s one example: In November 2021, a pack of handmade Thanksgiving cards arrived for Peggy showing turkeys drawn by outlining small hands made by Susquehanna schoolchildren. Peggy wanted to thank the sender, so Sandra tracked down the senders’ teacher, and Peggy emailed to thank her for “adding something special to a 94-year-old senior citizen’s day.”
The teacher responded with a heartfelt note and a story about Peggy’s unforgettable kindness. It was 1990, and the teacher had just moved to the area to work in the school district. The superintendent spent a day helping the teacher find an apartment during the holiday break. Peggy sold the teacher her grandmother’s living room furniture, and the superintendent allowed a district custodian to deliver the pieces. On the second day of the New Year, Peggy invited the teacher to enjoy the traditional central Pennsylvania meal of pork and sauerkraut.
“Your mom was so embarrassed to be serving leftovers,” the teacher wrote. “Little did she know that kindness would help mold me into the teacher that I am today.”
In addition to knitting, Peggy fills her days at Homeland with exercise class and bingo and enjoys doing Sudoku and word puzzles in the newspaper.
“The staff is wonderful here,” Sandra said. “Many of them have been here for a long time. That longevity says a lot about the care they receive.”