HERMON, Maine — Gladys Knowles and the other women of the American Legion Auxiliary in Hermon are busy plying their knitting needles for a good cause.
They’re working to make colorful handmade hats and mittens for the town’s children who need a helping hand in order to stay warm.
“One of our projects is to try and do something for our community,” Knowles said recently. “It just popped into my head — why don’t we do something for the elementary school?”
Knowles, who is the president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 200 of Hermon, said that in addition to knitting hats and mittens, the group also is happy to accept donations from the community.
With close to 40 pairs of mittens and half a dozen hats already knit, the women have dropped off the first batch at the elementary school — and are gearing up to knit more.
“They were really pleased to get them,” Knowles said of the box she presented to the elementary school recently.
While members of the group originally had imagined the project as ending at the holidays, they have decided to run it throughout the winter because there is need, she said.
The donations are much appreciated, said Barbara Libby, Hermon Elementary School principal, who noted the school has received similar gifts in the past.
“We’ve never had a family yet that wasn’t glad to receive them and take them in the spirit it was intended, which is to keep kids warm and keep them going outside,” she said. “Having shopped in recent months for things like hats, mittens and gloves, I’ve noticed that they’re very, very expensive, even for children.”
The school’s teachers will distribute the items to the students who need them most, Libby said.
“They are the best people to know if students are coming in without mittens or a hat,” she said.
While Hermon is not a high-poverty area, Libby said, some students are economically disadvantaged and are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches at school. The national economic crisis has affected families in Hermon as it has everywhere.
“In any community there are pockets and isolated areas of deep need, even in well-to-do areas,” Libby said. “I am aware that the town has received more numerous requests for food than in the past.”
Hermon is fortunate in that it has a very active Parent Teacher Association, which provides money to help children in tough circumstances through the Kids In Need fund, Libby said.
“This is a very caring community,” she said.
To donate mittens or learn more about the project contact Gladys Knowles at 848-5597.