For the last three years, Lucy Martayan has carefully knitted handmade children’s clothing, and sent them to FAR’s office in Yerevan with a request that they be distributed to kids in the Berd Region. The hand-made shirts, scarves, and gloves have become a beacon of warmth and comfort to these children, most of whom live in poverty.

Lucy, 84, was born in Alexandria, Egypt. During World War II, her family moved from Alexandria to Cairo where she started attending the Kalousdian Armenian National School, and learned Armenian, Arabic, French, and English. After graduation in 1952, Lucy started to work as a teacher at the Merdjanian School in Cairo.

“In 1963, I emigrated to Armenia, to Leninakan (now Gyumri), for 12 years and started to work as a French language teacher in a school specialized in French language. I studied and graduated from Yerevan Brusov State University in 1969, and the same year became head of the French Department,” she said. She continued teaching after moving to the U.S. in 1976. From 1976 to 2009, Lucy taught Armenian at Holy Martyrs Armenian Saturday School in New York and worked at Chubb Insurance Company.

“After retiring and stopping teaching, I decided that I must do something to help people. I decided to start knitting and sent my completed work to Gyumri Orphanage. I am very happy and satisfied with my work so far. There were volunteers willing to take the knitted clothing to the orphanage, but as the quantity of my work greatly increased, the delivery from New York to Armenia became an issue.” Lucy started sending her clothes to Armenia via friends who were traveling there to save on the cost. A few years ago, one especially helpful friend offered to drop the clothes at FAR’s office during a trip to Yerevan.

While talking about FAR, Lucy mentioned that she knew us and our projects before she started to knit. “Being in the United States, I, along with many other Armenians, keep up with the current events and situation in Armenia. As a result, we are also aware of the many efforts that organizations, such as FAR, continue to do in Armenia,” she said.

Lucy starts her knitting process by purchasing different types of colorful wool. She then uses Pinterest photos to guide her as she makes her own items. “It is less work, and more of a relaxing and therapeutic hobby. Seeing the kids’ excitement and joy when they receive and wear my garments not only makes me happy, but it drives me to continue my labor to see more of those same heart-warming reactions,” she said. Lucy received plenty of photos of the children wearing her gifts. “Helping the children of Berd gives me great satisfaction and joy. Knowing that there are Armenian children staying warm from my garments gives me an immense inner fulfillment.”

“I am happy to have known this wonderful woman. She is a true philanthropist, and the best supporter I have ever encountered,” said FAR’s Ayo! Community Director Helena Melkonyan, who has managed the distributions of Lucy’s gifts. “When I give the clothes to the kids I also tell them that this amazing woman, Mrs. Lucy, spent days and nights knitting these clothes for you, so that you can be warm in the winter. The true philanthropist knows that it’s not necessarily the money that makes beneficiaries happy, but the fact that they know someone cares about them.”