365 Days – 1,700 Hats!

A year ago February, members of the Lititz Moravian Congregation were challenged to take on a new mission project: making soft, warm hats for children receiving treatment at the Hershey Medical Center-Children’s Cancer Center. This project would require our time and talent in addition to our treasure. Yarn, skill and prayers combined to provide some comfort to children during their illness and treatment.

Experienced stitchers jumped right in; novices learned the intricacies of needles, hooks and weaving. All were careful to follow the strict requirements: the hats could be knit, crocheted or made on a loom; they had to be in sizes for a child or a youth; and only 100 percent new acrylic yarn could be used. Once completed, the hats had to be individually sealed in plastic bags. Each bag containing a hat bears the label: “Made with Love and Prayers by The Lititz Moravian Congregation.”

About a month after work began, the first 100 hats were delivered to Hershey. Additional deliveries were made over the next few months. However, as summer approached, Hershey requested that we reduce the number of hats we were donating to them. They had limited storage space, and not as many hats would be needed over the warm summer months. The people involved in the project didn’t want to lose their momentum, however, so the stitchers—men, women and children ranging in age from 9 to 93—just kept right on making hats and storing them until they were needed.

As the number of finished hats grew quickly, our project leader, Tom Snavely, contacted St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and St. Joseph’s and Reading General Hospitals in Reading, Pa. All these institutions were excited and grateful to receive as many hats as we could provide. A local UPS store also became involved, offering free boxes and providing a discount on the cost to ship hats to St. Jude’s.

Just 365 days after that first challenge was issued, when the latest delivery was made to St. Jude’s and Hershey, our tally for donated hats so far hit 1,700! A really impressive feat considering all those hats have been made with less than a dozen stitchers and donors.

We thank God for providing the idea for this mission project. Our operating motto is taken from the third line of a favorite Moravian Hymn –“to us, to us, this task is given.” And so the project will continue.

Anna “Doodie” Charles is a member of Lititz Moravian Church in Lititz, Pa.