Laughter echoes in the craft room at a local RV community as women gather to crochet, knit and sew creations to donate to local charities.

The group, called Nimble Fingers, is part of the Voyager RV Resort's clubs and organizations. It was started by Eleanor Atteridge in the mid-1980s as a social gathering where women crafted things together.

"Then they had the idea to use leftover knitting and crochet yarns to make crocheted toys to take to the Tucson Medical Center for the pediatric unit at Christmastime," Joyce Spears, 71, wrote in an email.

The group of 20 women meet year-round at Voyager RV Resort, 8701 S. Kolb Road, and are joined by 20 to 30 winter visitors.

Right now some of the women are making pillows adorned with the likenesses of pigs, cats and bunnies for EMTs to give children being transported by ambulance, Spears said.

Others are making hats for the Arizona Cancer Center and the oncology unit at St. Mary's Hospital.

"Some are made out of fleece or lightweight cotton, and then we make winter ones for when it gets cold," said Jan Tuttle, 74.

Their projects also include blankets, toys, afghans, gloves, slippers and baby sweaters. Materials and money are donated by people who've heard of the group via word of mouth.

So far this year they've made about 1,800 items. Years prior they've made and distributed up to 3,000.

The women display their work at every meeting, where it receives applause and whispers of "Oh, I want to make that" and "Well, isn't that pretty?"

One member chimed in "another Wisconsin," referring to the work of Marie Zellmer - a 72-year-old winter visitor from Wisconsin - who has been making lap throws for people in wheelchairs.

"When I first got here and saw all that the group gave away, it just amazed me," said Zellmer, who joined Nimble Fingers five years ago.

The range of organizations Nimble Fingers donates to is as vast as its work, and includes the local VA Hospital; shelters for families, the homeless and women; and other nonprofits.

"There's so many charities we give to that you just can't remember them all," Zellmer said.

Find out more

To learn more about Nimble Fingers call 663-4007.

Stephanie Fousse is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at