RIPLEY, Maine — In December a bluegrass jam session raised more than $200 and several bags of gifts, including more than 100 pairs of mittens to benefit the Piscataquis Santa Fund. The jam was organized by the Bluegrass Music Association of Maine. The event was a collaboration between the Piscataquis Santa Fund, Valley Grange and the association.

“We enjoyed working together on behalf of the kids as much as we enjoyed playing together. In a sense, we ‘made music’ on so many levels,” said Deb Burdin, president of the association and an upright bass player and vocalist.

Burdin also knitted more than 100 pairs of mittens to warm many small hands.

“I wanted to do something for my community,” she said, noting that it encompasses a wide area including Abbot, Guilford, Kingsbury Plantation, St. Albans, Monson, Greenville, Harmony and Cambridge. She started knitting the mittens in October.

Walter Boomsma of Valley Grange announced that the Grange will conduct a yarn drive to assist Burdin and other knitters as they start work on several other projects. “We’re fortunate to have a number of knitters who want to help. The least we can do to support them is provide some yarn,” he said. Donations of any kind of yarn will be accepted except baby yarn.

Collection boxes will be placed at several area locations including the Penquis office and University of Maine Extension office in Dover Foxcroft. Area businesses or organizations interested in serving as a collection point are invited to call Boomsma at 343-1842 to obtain a collection box. Those with yarn to donate may contact any member of Valley Grange or visit for information.

Knitters are invited to take part in the effort. “We can use hats, mittens, scarves — even blankets and afghans,” Boomsma said. “We recently provided a beautiful afghan to Penquis Journey House for a fundraising raffle.” Those willing to help are encouraged to call knitter and Valley Grange community service chairwoman Mary Annis at 564-0820.

Burdin wonders if she’ll start seeing more people knitting at bluegrass events, joking that, “We have a Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Festival every summer. Maybe we could have a Blistered Fingers Knitting Festival, too! ”

The Bluegrass Music Association of Maine was formed in March 1995 as an organization of listeners and players who enjoy bluegrass music. Bluegrass friends, fans and pickers are invited to contact Burdin at 277-4331 or email to obtain information about the organization.