by Becky GINOS
CENTERVILLE—Being a patient at the Huntsman Cancer Institute is not easy. But thanks to some fourth-graders at Reading Elementary, they’ll feel warm and loved. The children there recently completed a learning service project making loom-knit hats to donate to the facility.
“Reading has a long standing tradition of looming hats,” said fourth-grade teacher Kim Klinker. “Some years back we got a grant to purchase the looms. The yarn has been donated by parents.”
Klinker said two other classes worked on the project before Christmas break and those hats were given to the Road Home Shelter in Salt Lake. “We started right after we got back from the holiday,” she said. “So we’ve been working for about a month. Who we decide to give to changes every year. We did it for an orphanage in Peru for years.”
Last year someone from Reading had a contact with the Granite School District that had several refugees. “We became partners with their first grade,” said Klinker. “This year we heard there was a need at the Huntsman and when we contacted them they were thrilled to have the kids’ hats.”
In conjunction with the activity the teachers explain to the children about the people they are making the hats for and what difficulties they are facing, said Klinker. “Last year we told them about the students at that school who had come to this country for a fresh start with their families,” she said. “This year the kids were really excited about Huntsman and one student has a parent who is being treated there so it made it special and more personal.”
The representative at Huntsman suggested the children include a note with the hat, said Klinker, which made it even more personal.
“I hope you like the hat I made for you,” read one note. “I try to do my best.”
“I really hope you like this hat,” said another. “I hope it will keep you warm. Have a good winter.”
Before they started the project, Klinker said they found a good instructional video on YouTube for the children to watch. “Some already knew how because they’d learned from an older sibling who had done it here,” she said. “There are kids who have made several hats because they really enjoy it. We kind of let them go on their own. I was looming at home and my husband said, ‘I could do that,’ so we both started looming. It’s fun to do while you’re watching TV.”
The class of 27 made about 40 hats, said Klinker. “They’re mostly hats for teens and adults but we have some for infants too,” she said. “The parents are always so supportive. They say ‘all my children have done it, this is great.’ They want their own loom to keep going at home.”
Klinker said the kids work on the hats during teacher read aloud time and when they’re done with their work they can work quietly on it. “Lots of kids like to take them home because it’s an exciting project for them.”
“It’s just been fun,” said fourth grader Payten Davidson. “My aunt’s going to have a new baby so a hat is going to her. I’ve made a ton at home.”
Harper Gunnell’s father is being treated at the Huntsman. “He’s feeling much better,” he said. “Making a hat is special because he might get one. My mom’s been helping me make a hat for the first time. It’s fun because I don’t have to feel like I’m doing it alone. We were excited when we found out we were doing the hat project. I just finished mine yesterday.”
The community has been very supportive too, said Klinker. “I feel like this is a way to give back and have the kids learn that,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity for the kids to think about someone other than themselves – especially at holiday time.”