A knitting group at a Catholic school started after an article in Women’s Day magazine said millions of premature babies worldwide die each year because their body temperatures do not stay regulated. Simple caps could help save lives, said Ann Wegman, a reading teacher at St. Lawrence School in Greece.
The article sparked a crafty idea.
“I had a lunch bunch of sixth-grade girls with too much energy, and I could not contain these kids,” Wegman said, recalling the first class she taught to knit in 2004 using free patterns found at www.warmupamerica.org.
Hundreds of hats later, students in third through sixth grades come to Wegman’s classroom during their lunch to knit hats, scarves and mittens, and to sew quilts for Warm Up America and Save the Children.
When the Knights of Columbus Greece Council No. 3892 recently heard about the program, they gave the school a $150 gift card to JoAnn Fabric to help pay for supplies. The council also provided the school with a bag full of skeins of yarn. Wegman said the school has received a variety of donations of yarn, fabric and money from community members.
Boxes of baby items have been sent to the Bronx, Strong Memorial Hospital’s neonatal intensive-care unit and Unity Hospital, among other locations. The students also have sent hats to Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where family members of one recipient sent photos of the tiny preemie wearing the teacup-sized knitted hat.
“They sent a picture of the baby with the hat, and sent a thank-you note,” said the hat’s creator, 10-year-old Kristyn Robertson. “I thought that was nice.”
The Knights of Columbus gift was in honor of the national charitable organization’s 125th anniversary, said Harold Redmond, a Knight and a parishioner of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Greece.
One of the fraternal organization’s main goals is to care for widows and orphans, he said. He was joined by Patrick O’Connor, a district deputy with the Knights, a member of the Greece Council and an Our Lady of Mercy parishioner.
“The thing that got us is you are teaching these children a craft, and a hobby and charity,” Redmond said.
Students are able to pick their projects, including picking yarn. They keep their projects in individual bags, and they often jump in to help each other.
“These kids want to be stylish with these hats,” Wegman said, pointing out the array of colors student have used in hats that hang from a clothesline in the room.
Students also have the option to make a project to give away to family and friends, as long as they have first donated an item to charity. Some buy their own yarn to make projects.
“When we realized that there’s such a need all over, you can’t believe that everyone’s (not) doing this,” Wegman said.