HELENA — Frigid temperatures are just a part of living in Montana, but thanks to a generous donation Helena area children have new winter hats to help stay warm.
Earlier this year a box with over 400 hand-knitted winter hats showed up at Helena High School (HHS).
HHS Counselor Chrissy Murgle tells MTN, “They are beautifully made with a variety of colors and designs. That was way more than we needed here in our building and so our department decided to share with elementary buildings.”
The majority of the hats were passed along to Bryant, Central, Smith and Rossiter elementary schools.
“I said I would love to have some hats for our school,” said Ellaina Staldine, Rossiter school counselor. “At the time I was looking around a lot of our kiddos with bare ears. They were running around with no hats, no gloves with cold weather coming.”
Across the school district, there are many children that are in need of winter clothing, which aren’t cheap.
Around 40 percent of students at Rossiter have historically qualified for free or reduced lunch.
The school has a closet full of items like coats, snow boots, gloves and backpacks for children in need to keep, but those supplies go quickly.
Rossiter Elementary received 150 of the hand-knitted hats and have already handed out about half.
“It is really important that we have hats and other donations like that to keep out kids warm because we do have a very high population of need here,” said Staldine. “Our families and students have needs for services and we hope to help them.”
The hats themselves were knitted by a group of women at Helena Valley Faith Center.
They were originally made with the intention of going to orphans overseas, but the group knitted hundreds of extras.
“I spoke with the other ladies that make them,” said knitting group organizer Christi Rodriguez, “and they thought we might try the schools.”
The group ended up making a donation of hats to the Friendship Center as well.
Rodriguez said she’s so glad the hats have found heads in need.
“That’s our main thing is to help kids who don’t have hats for colder weather,” said Rodriquez. “I’m disbled and I live with chronic pain, so there’s not a lot of things I can do. So if I can sit down and make a hat then I at least feel like I’m giving somewhere.”
Rodriquez said due to the obvious need in the community, the knitting group plans on making more hats next year for the schools.
Schools are always in need of winter clothing, but there are several ways for people to help.
People should contact their neighborhood school about donating new or gently winter gear.
“If we didn’t have support... Really, I worry about our kids,” said Staldine. “It’s cold out there and we’ve seen kids come with just thin jackets.We have a responsibility to keep our kids safe and make sure they’re able to learn. So we find a way to cloth them the best that we can.”