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From hand to heart: Local hobbyist uses talents to help those in need

Diana Landau is a local craftswoman who has been knitting, crocheting and quilting since she was about 5 years old. Like many parents, she often allowed her hobbies to take a backseat to raising a family. But since her children are grown and out of the house she said, “Now, all I have is free time.”

And since COVID-19 hit? “What else am I gonna do?” she laughed.

Diana Landau
Diana Landau (Courtesy of Diana Landau)

Landau met Evelyn Herman at church and they began meeting up for crochet lessons. Herman had heard of Landau’s talents and wanted to learn how to crochet so she could make baby blankets for her future grandchildren.

When Herman came to Landau’s house for a crochet lesson, she noticed eight unfinished quilts hanging on the back of the couch. She asked Landau what she did with them.

“Well, I give them away,” Landau said. In addition to quilting, Herman discovered that Landau enjoys knitting hats and scarves for St. Patrick’s Center to distribute to the homeless individuals it serves. Landau also makes blankets for Manchester first responders and has done so for at least 20 years.

Impressed with Landau’s skill and generosity, Herman commented that Landau probably gets huge “thank-you’s” from those who receive her donations.

“She said, ‘I don’t get a thank you because I don’t know who gets them,’” Herman said.

Herman then told Landau that if she donated a quilt to help Herman’s women’s organization’s fundraiser she would get the biggest thank you from them.

Herman is the president of the Ballwin (KR) chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO). PEO is an international women’s organization that celebrates the advancement of women. Established in 1961 as a nonprofit corporation, PEO encourages tax-deductible giving to their educational and charitable projects. It works to educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and the stewardship of Cottey College, a small independent liberal arts and sciences college for women in Nevada, Missouri. The college is nationally ranked and fully accredited.

When Herman asked if Landau would donate one of her quilts, she was happy to oblige. Due to COVID-19, the organization had to cancel its usual fundraising efforts, which included a silent auction event and a garage sale. The quilt raffle, however, brought in $355 for the organization.

Herman had selected a patriotic lap quilt, which she said was perfect for the Nov. 5 virtual meeting where they announced the winner, given that it was so close to Veterans Day.

Landau did garner the thanks of the ladies of the PEO, but Herman said it’s clear she does not do all of her creating and donating for attention; she does it because it’s her passion.

Landau estimates that she puts at least $200 into materials for every quilt. And it is hard to put a price on the hours of handwork.

“I love making nice things to give to people in need,” Landau said.

Herman said that the truth is that Landau just likes to help, period.

“She’s affecting the lives of so many, and I just thought it was a good story,” Herman said about contacting West Newsmagazine. When she asked Landau for her permission to contact West, she said Landau replied, “If it benefits your group, then go ahead and do it.”

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