DECATUR – The members of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church can churn out a lot of knitted hats.
Since beginning their ongoing project to knit hats for donation to Decatur schools, the group has produced 855 hats – so far -- each one different, and this week they delivered them to Franklin School and Hope Academy. The group donated hats to other schools last year and are trying to eventually get to all Decatur schools, based on the greatest needs.
“We still have a few left,” said Debbie Roberts, a retired teacher who is a member of the group. Franklin got 225 hats; Hope got 445 hats; and Lutheran Child and Family Services got 35 hats.
On Thursday, members of the group and their pastor, the Rev. Brett Hinrichs, arrived at Hope with overflowing bags of hats and gloves, enough for all the students in grades kindergarten through sixth, plus a bottle of hand sanitizer, a box of Kleenex and a box of pencils for each of the classrooms.
Roberts made a brief presentation in each class, introduced her friends and pastor, and told the students that hats will help keep them warm this winter. Each hat also has a card attached which explains who made the hats and why: they wanted to share the love of Jesus with the kids. Roberts told the students they could take the tags off when they received their hats, but she hoped they'd show the tags to their parents first.
“I can't knit with needles,” Roberts told the students, showing them a circular plastic knitting loom the members of the group use to make the hats, which had a partially made hat in progress on it. “I took one of these to Franklin and had a mess (of tangled yarn) and I had to stand out in the hall and untangle it.”
Anyone who visits the weekly hat-making meetings gets pressed into service at least temporarily, and Hinrichs, who is a fairly recent addition to Mount Calvary, is no exception. He had to sit down and learn to use a loom, too, he said with a chuckle.
“I came to be able to be a part of it, to be able to rejoice with the ladies and just celebrate the blessing,” Hinrichs said.
A founding member of the hat-making group, Annalee Karloski, died at the end of October, Roberts said, and one of her favorite sayings was “There's always going to be heads that need (hats).”
However, making hats isn't all the ladies do. They volunteer with Meals on Wheels, the LSA Resale Shop, and Northeast Community Fund, and translating printed material into Braille. The Stitches of Love project to make hats is just one of their most visible efforts, and they're working with other groups in other Lutheran churches to produce even more hats.
Hope teacher SuEllen Mackey recruited some eighth-grade boys basketball players to help carry the hats in, which will be distributed by classroom teachers.
“We're going to each pod (group of classrooms) and explain to the kids why and let them see the hats they made,” Mackey said. “The kids will be allowed to choose a hat at a later time.”