Program gives kids hats, mittens

2010-11-09T17:30:00Z 2010-11-10T08:23:40Z Program gives kids hats, mittensBy CHELSEA KROTZER Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
November 09, 2010 5:30 pm  • 

Alex Kay isn't a picky 3-year-old boy, he just knows what he wants. Sort of.

While the other children in his class were scurrying through the rows of 277 different pairs of hats and mittens at Head Start on Tuesday morning, Kay took his time at each table, carefully looking over each set.

He had an important decision to make.

"Are you concerned about the color?" Judy Jensen, Head Start education coach, asked him. His reply: "I want a blue one."

Jensen pointed out one dark blue hat with a matching pair of mittens. They weren't quite right. Another pair was too light, and one that seemed to catch Kay's eye wasn't blue enough.

Then he saw it. The perfect pair in the perfect shade, only they weren't blue, they were lime green.

He rushed over and grabbed the knitted green hat with green-and-white matching mittens. He held them to his heart, gave a big smile and walked back over to Jensen.

"Alex, you look handsome," Jensen said as the boy looked himself over in a full-length mirror.

The class was in and out of the room within 15 minutes. There were 15 other classes waiting who needed to pick a hat and mitten set, totaling 260 3- and 4-year-old children.

A large number of the mittens were knitted by volunteer Marie Reamy. She's been helping out with the Caps and Mittens program for the past 10 to 12 years.

"I love it, these kids just get so excited," Reamy said. "I get lots of hugs from the kids."

She typically knits 500 pairs of mittens a year for various causes, spending four to five hours a night knitting. She said she's slow this year, making 250.

She saw a need for the mittens when most people were donating just hats.

"A lot of people make their hats on a round loom, and I just try to match the mittens to those hats," Reamy said.

She uses yarn donated by the Yellowstone County Council on Aging, which organizes the Caps and Hats program. About 10 volunteers from that organization and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program donate the knitted items.

"When they are done with them we stockpile them through the year," said Kathy Dokken of YCCOA.

Contact Chelsea Krotzer at ckrotzer@billingsgazette.com or 657-1392.

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