Although the winter’s touch on Northern Virginia has been light and fleeting, there are still homeless people in the region, with nothing but threadbare coats to keep them warm when the snow falls and the winds blow.
One kindergarten class decided that it was time to give something warm, and colorful, to those who need it most.
Students in Sheila Wynne’s class at Chesterbrook Elementary School, with the help of their fifth-grade Book Buddies from Karen Hershey’s class, took ordinary, brightly colored polar fleece and felt and made 20 scarves, by hand, that were distributed to the Center for Creative Nonviolence in Washington, D.C., shortly before Christmas.
“It was the idea of one of my students’ moms, actually,” Wynne said. “Every year I meet with my parent volunteers to plot what activities we’ll be doing during the year, and while we were planning our (winter) solstice party, Lariel (Dalier) asked if the kids could do something for someone else,” she said. Dalier’s son, Magnus, is in Wynne’s class.
The parents also decided to donate books to the Center, which they selected from Wynne’s Wish List for the annual book fair.
“We decided to give our books and scarves to the Center because it’s a place that would help kids that are homeless and need help,” Wynne said. “We’ve never done this before, but if I could pull it off every year, I’d love to.”
SHE SAID THERE was a lot of “peace and happiness” during the making of the scarves, and the children were encouraged working on the project because “this is real, and it’s right here. Someone’s really going to get (a scarf), and it’s something they will like. It’s not just some little thing,” she said. “Maybe someone will keep it and look at it for a long time.”
But those are the words of the teacher, the adult. It’s the words of the students that show the true impact of their generosity.
“First we got a big scarf with things and we got little pieces (of felt) that we cut into shapes and made things,” said Isabella Guerro. “We got help from our Book Buddies, and we had to sew it.”
The students found it difficult to sew the felt pieces onto the polar fleece, complicated enough for the 5-year-olds, many of whom had never sewn before.
“We put a blue and green flower on a red scarf,” said Natalie Noll. “We thought it would be a nice design to put on it.”
Erin Ginnerty chose to put some inspirational words on her dark blue scarf. “We did words that said ‘Believe’ on it, because all you have to do is believe and there’s hope for you.”
The children had no idea who would get their scarves, so Alice Foreman decided to play it safe.
“We had a pink scarf with different colored dots and blobs all over it so it wouldn’t matter if it went to a boy or a girl,” she said.
THE SEWING WAS tricky.
“I kept poking myself. It was kind of hard to get through both layers of fabric,” said Daniel Gallagher.
“The sewing was hard because it can get caught on your clothes,” said Kristen Ahearn.
When the scarves were finished, the students were very happy with what they’d created.
“It felt great,” said Kate Hardock. “It felt like I was giving a part of something of myself that I made.”
“I felt happy because we were giving it to someone else,” said Anna Murphy.
Jennie Bertrand agreed. “I felt really good doing that, because the less fortunate kids can keep warm” with the scarves they made.
“My big sister said it was cool,” said Meg Lord. “I liked it because we were helping the people who didn’t have anything.”
The children also learned that they could accomplish anything they wanted, an important lesson to learn at any age.
“I was nervous before we made the scarves because I thought they would be really hard,” said Murphy.
“I was scared because I thought I wouldn’t sew, but then I tried and I believed in myself and I did it,” said Helen Pelak.
Wynne said about half the students wanted to keep the scarves they made because they were so proud of what they’d made.