Shira and Ava Robinson of Needham are almost-7-year-old fraternal twins who look alike, but couldn’t be more different.
Ava’s voice is deeper. She enunciates every word. Shira speaks excitedly, rapidly, in a higher pitch.
Ava, who attends Montessori School in Needham, wants to be a fashion designer. Shira, a student at Mitchell School, also in Needham, is scientific. She wants to be an astronaut.
They agree on one thing: They enjoy doing kind things for people in need and regularly donate their Shabbat quarter-coins to good causes. Also, twice annually, they save, count, and donate their quarters to charities they choose, including Hadassah, Franklin Park Zoo, and the Jimmy Fund.
Daughters of high school writing teacher Matt Robinson, formerly of Marblehead, and his wife, Emily, a nephrologist/kidney specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, they sometimes like going to their mother’s place of work.
Emily treats seriously ill peoples and others on dialysis. The twins draw and color there, but prefer visiting patients and making them smile.
A while ago, while visiting their grandparents and uncle in New York, Shira noticed homeless people on the streets.
“I think poor people don’t have as much as we do, and they should have something. We can’t get to everybody, but we give what we can,” she says, referring to their Shabbat quarters.
After watching the movie “Annie” on TV, Shira and Ava also realized that some children lack parents and live in orphanages.
“I cried,” Ava says.
“We know children in the world who don’t have what we do,” says Shira.
So Shira decided to help orphans, the needy, and the homeless by arm-knitting warm, wrap-around scarves.
With arm-knitting, you use your arms instead of knitting needles. She learned arm-knitting by watching instructions on YouTube.
“It’s fun,” says Ava. “Shira wanted me to do it, too, so I said yes. I like to do things to help people.”
Shira pipes up.
“We made so many; we gave them to family, friends, and needy people as gifts,” she says in one breath. “Then people asked if they could buy them for gifts for their friends. That’s when we decided to make more scarves for the needy.”
Suddenly, though, the girls had to stop – the heavy yarn they used was discontinued. They needed help.
“The thicker the yarn, the faster you can make the scarves. The girls built up an army of volunteers who want to help make scarves, but we must build up a yarn supply,” their dad explains.
“Scarves are quick and easy to make,” he says, “and we’re finding more and more organizations that want them. Scarves cost $20 if people buy or keep them, or $15 if they are donated to the homeless or a shelter.”
Robinson scoured eBay and struck out, so he started a GoFundMe website to purchase yarn and gained faster results.
He also contacted Elissa Lazdowsky. The Jewish owner of Lisa’s Creative Warehouse in Needham, she offered to sell the scarves and raise donations to homeless charities. Her customers also donate yarn to continue the girls’ tzedakah.
“They’re wonderfully thoughtful girls,” says a clearly proud Robinson. “They inspire others. We live in a privileged community and we hope others will join the girls.”
Lazdowsky says that Shira and Ava inspire people with their love of arm knitting and compassion for people.
“The girls brighten my shop every time they come by,” she says. “They are such a wonderful representation of the new generation, one we can all be proud of.”
She adds that she hopes to start a children’s knitting class but needs yarn, supplies, and financial donations.
Robinson, Shira and Ava’s dad, will be part of the effort.
“We welcome anyone who can help us find resources,” he says.
To contact the Robinson family, email firstname.lastname@example.org.