Especially For You
by Ann Alfano
This was written by Ann Alfano in 1975, who recently went to
be with the Lord. She loved to be contacted, for she wanted "to
know if you like this story". You may inquire about "Hats" by contacting Ron@fridaystudy.org.
Ann said "the greatest thing in life is to love God, and the second greatest
thing is to love people."
Hats for the Homeless
by Ann Alfano
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father
is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself
unspotted from the world" (James 1:27)
As I walked briskly down a Brooklyn street, I drew my woolly scarf closer to
my face, my warm hat over my ears. The bitter cold sent a shiver through my
well-protected body. What was it doing to the homeless people I saw slumped on
the sidewalk - bareheaded, without scarves, some with summer clothes?
Slowly, an idea came to my mind. Can I make hats for some of the homeless
people I've never seen? I wondered. I've always loved any form of handiwork, so
the idea seemed good. Still, a crochet hook costs so little. So does a skein of
yarn. When I was a little girl, my mother had very thin crochet hooks. She used
it to make doilies. I had to buy a larger hook for what I needed.
After making my first hat, I was really going to town to make as many as
three hats a week - If I ran into trouble there was someone to help in the
apartment building where we lived. When I explained I was making hats for the
homeless, one generous person sold me yarn at half price for my project. People
donated yarn. I scouted out local stores. After making my first ten tats, I
packed them into a shopping bag and headed for a mission in one of the most
run-down areas in Brooklyn. This mission has a room where needy and homeless
people can pick-out clothes for free.
One day, I made a scarf too wide but discovered that a large square could be
turned into a blanket. That meant no more trying to figure out intricate
patterns, which took extra time. I started making hats in different sizes, plain
or decorated with pompons. Soon, I had hats and matching scarves. Some went to
missionary families; others went to a prison ministry that provides gifts for
parents to give their children and family at Christmas time.
The next batch went to a Christian medical clinic in the city where street
people, mostly mothers and children went. The surprise gift of a colorful hat or
a scarf, quickly calms a frightened child with a toothache or injury. One day, A
young man at the retirement home stopped and talked to me and told me his father
had a hat factory. He also asked me if I could use hats? Already made? I gasped.
"I'll bring a few next week for you to see", he said.
A whole week to wait. What if he changed his mind? What if the roof leaked
and the hats were ruined? What if someone stole them?
In less than one hour, my friend was back with a handful of hats. "Thank You,
The hats were machine-made; created in double-knit, nice and warm. The only
hitch was that they came in eight-foot-long tubes of knitted bands. I could get
hats from each tube. To turn these open-ended pieces into hats, I crocheted the
edges and tied-up the top ends, adding pom-poms on some, and leaving others
When several interested residents of the retirement home began to help, I was
overjoyed. That week alone, we trimmed 30-hats. Why don't we have more hats to
fill the needs? I wondered. Idle hands were everywhere - twiddling aimlessly in
a dentist's waiting room, resting in a lap on a vacation trip. The hands of a
retired person, no longer needing to work, but waiting to be useful. And the
hands of people complaining of boredom, yet doing nothing.
"Of course I can crochet, but what's the point?" a friend asked. "Nobody in
my family needs anything!"
"I'm sure our ladies group at Church could make hats and scarves," another
friend said, "but what would we do with them? Where would we send them?" I
helped both women to understand the need and how they could make the difference
in people's lives. New York City has 11,000 homeless children. The streets are
just as cold this winter as last.
Soon I began spreading the word everywhere I went. Before long, I saw other
hands joining mine. Most people, I found, are willing to pitch-in, once they've
heard about a need they could help meet.
Recently, one woman told me her family doctor picks-up his crochet book to
work on hats for the homeless, between seeing patients. Some people work on hats
while watching TV. A retired artist in a wheel chair, spends hours decorating
hats. One Church group made enough hats to decorate a Christmas tree for its'
annual children's party. The Church children participated by donating enough
money to buy mittens to match the hats.
The most important thing I've learned from working on this project is not
about a crochet stitch. Rather, it's about changing people's attitudes toward
helping others, and in addition, I've found that saying "I can't" is really the
sin of saying "I don't want to" in disguise.
Especially For You
Friday Study Ministries