A group of crafty Sun City Oro Valley volunteers refuses to leave impoverished children in the cold.

Casa Amigas, an organization made up of people who knit and sew in the retirement community, combine their efforts to create, mend and collect clothing for economically disadvantaged kids in the Amphitheater Unified School District, as well as other local charities, including Catalina Community Services.

The group meets twice a week and holds special events and donation drives.

Susan Canty, director of the Amphi Foundation’s Clothing Bank, which provides clothes to those in need, said the donations are crucial to the organization.

The group makes blankets, skirts, pajamas, vests, ear warmers and outfits, and gathers donations of new shoes. This year, the group provided 45 shopping bags, allowing families to collect the clothes they need from the foundation.

“Those ladies have been wonderful this year, and on a regular basis” Canty said. “They have done so much for us. Our bags were ratty and threadbare, so we asked them to make new ones for us. The women have just been unbelievable this year.”

Canty said the women are always looking for ways to help.

“They have been bending over backwards for us for the last two years,” she said. “Another thing they do that’s absolutely adorable is, they take jeans that we get with holes in them and make little skirts out of them. They’re just fabulous. I can’t praise them enough.”

Sandy Fritz, 72, has been with the 20- to 25-member group since 1999. She said the knowledge that the products are needed keeps her and the others working hard.

“It gives us the satisfaction of knowing it’s going to children who need the articles that we make,” she said. “We do things specifically for children, and the Amphi Foundation sends us pictures of children holding up their dresses and blankets.”

Fritz said her heart aches for those who can’t afford to properly clothe their children.

“It’s really devastating to know that there are children without shoes,” she said.

The social aspect of knitting and sewing makes the creative process hardly feel like work, Fritz said.

“There is a lot of conversation going on,” she said. “We discuss different projects we might want to do, and there’s a give and take. We consider all suggestions made by members of the group.”

Fritz said donations from community members, as well as Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores help Casa Amigas accomplish its goals.

“We really stretch every dollar that we get,” she said.

Nancy Njaa, another member of Casa Amigas, said she and others are almost embarrassed by any attention they get for their efforts, feeling that the act of giving is more than reward enough.

“The reason I do it is because I think there is a big need out there,” said Njaa, 63. “I think without people like all these residents pitching in to help out, there would be a whole lot of children left wanting.”

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com