Downtown Angels: Brave Beanies is looming, chilling and growing

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Zia Tyree and Elizabeth Yee are founding members of Brave Beanies at ASU. The club looms beanies to send to children around the globe who are fighting cancer. (Tynin Fries/DD)
Zia Tyree and Elizabeth Yee are founding members of Brave Beanies at ASU. The club looms beanies to send to children around the globe who are fighting cancer. (Tynin Fries/DD)

Over 20 children who are fighting cancer around the world will receive knit hats created by one of ASU’s newest clubs: Brave Beanies.

Downtown nursing student Marina Birch was inspired to create the local club after working with Never Ever Give Up (NEGU), which was started by 12-year-old Jessie Rees before she lost her battle with cancer in 2012.

The foundation sends what they call “Joy Jars” to children around the globe who are fighting cancer in order to comfort them with knit hats and toys.

As president, Birch started this club in January alongside nursing majors Zia Tyree, vice president, and Elizabeth Yee, secretary.

“I brought the idea to Zia and Elizabeth,” Birch said. “I have known how to loom since high school and I was making all these beanies, but I didn’t know what to do with them. So I thought it would be cool if I donated them. I thought it might be something other people would want to do so we made a club.”

Despite having few expectations, Brave Beanies has quickly become popular on campus, with about 85 people participating in the latest Loom & Chill, an event where members “chill” while also looming hats.

“It was a lot more successful than I thought it would be,” Birch said. “We had a great opportunity to do a Loom & Chill, so we had a lot of interest and a lot of beanies were made. It’s really crazy to see how fast it (Brave Beanies) progressed.”

Yee is amazed at how successful Brave Beanies has become. She said at least 20 beanies have been loomed for children around the world.

“I’m just really proud of Marina,” Yee said. “I was there when she had the idea and to see it move from an idea in her head to a club on campus, that has gained so much interest is so cool.”

Despite never being a part of a club before, member Hailey Hummel has already loomed five hats this semester.

“I thought it was an awesome cause,” Hummel said. “I only joined because it was for such a great cause. I spend my time either studying or doing nothing, so I’d rather spend that time doing something productive like looming.”

The usual meetings have at least 15 members who are constantly looming, with more members showing up for events such as the Loom & Chill. Tyree wants the club to be successful, but also to spread the importance of community service.

“We have a lot of goals for next semester,” Tyree said. “I think it’s just about keeping up the mentality that doing community service can still be fun. That’s what we want to show our members.”

After completing its first semester, Brave Beanies will donate more than 20 beanies to the Jessie Rees Foundation (http://negu.org) next month. Birch, Yee and Tyree plan to expand the club even more next semester in the hopes of increasing their donations and community service on campus.

“We want to have more members and make even more beanies,” Birch said. “We want to have more Loom & Chills next semester. And we really want to make it something that’s fun and also rewarding.”

To become involved with Brave Beanies at ASU, visit its Facebook group or cause page. Next semester, Brave Beanies will meet at least once a month on campus.

Contact the author at Tynin.Fries@asu.edu

Contact the columnist at Holly.Bernstein@asu.edu