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The City Journals

1,000 hats for homeless

Jun 23, 2017 09:53AM ● By Jet Burnham

Hats are stored in a cabinet in the media center until December, when they are delivered to the Road Home Shelter. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Service-oriented students have made 1,000 hats for Salt Lake’s homeless. For the last six and a half years, students in the service club at West Hills Middle School have used study hall and after-school hours to knit the winter hats. The hats are stuffed with a Christmas card, colored by students, and delivered to the Road Home Shelter each December.

Maddie Jolley, who is now a sophomore at Copper Hills High helped make hats all three years she was a member of the service club at West Hills.

“It’s one of the things I loved coming to school for,” she said. 

Jolley challenged the club to complete 1,000 hats before she graduated high school. They reached that goal less than a year later. She suggested they have a party when they reached their goal in May. 

Current and former students who have been a part of the project were invited to the celebration. Principal Stacy Evans provided pizza and cake. 

“That was absolutely the least that I could do,” Evans told the students. “You guys are so amazing. The service that you’ve given has, I’m sure, affected so many people.”

Jolley saw proof of the effects when she recognized one of their hats on a homeless man last year. 

“I knew that they were going to homeless people, and I knew we were trying,” Jolley said. “But I didn’t realize until I saw that cute old guy with the bright purple hat on. I knew right then and there, we were helping people—we really were.” 

Evans is impressed with the students who have spent hours each week working on the project. She told the students, “I know you will continue to do great things like this and find those service opportunities and take those to help other people.”

Since her involvement with the project, Jolley has been inspired to make service a continued part of her life. She said this project made her more aware of the service opportunities around her. 

Last winter, she and her friends handed out care bags full of food, hand warmers, chapstick and socks to the homeless. She used her own money to purchase the items. Jolley has also raised money for cancer research and for kids with disabilities. 

“It’s really made me realize how fortunate I am,” she said. “If there’s any way I can help, I definitely want to.” 

Chantel Walker, adviser for the service club that sponsors the hat project, is an advocate for service-learning activities. She said students feel happy when they are doing something for others. 

Emma Crowther, a seventh-grader, enjoys chatting with friends while she makes the hats.

“It’s nice that you get to do something fun and you’re helping people too,” she said.

Students who are part of the service club often recruit their friends to help when they have time. Seventh-grader Ella Davis joined at the urging of her friends. She found the group very supportive.

 “I came in without a clue of what I was doing,” she said. “But it’s fun once you get the hang of it.”

Walker explained how the project began.

“My mom couldn’t crochet anymore but had a bunch of yarn,” she said. “So I bought some looms, and we started making hats. Seven years later, we’ve made over 1,000 hats.” 

People continue to donate yarn as well as money to purchase more supplies. Walker also uses funds set aside for service-learning activities. Hats are made on four different sizes of looms and some are crocheted.

The club sets an annual goal as well as smaller monthly goals. When the monthly goal is reached, the students get a treat.

The number of students making hats has increased each year as more students learn about the project. In 2010, students produced 52 hats. This year they made 240 between January and May. Their goal is to have 320 before December. Ethan Guymon, a seventh-grader, predicts they’ll reach 2,000 total hats before he graduates high school.