Chuck’s Hats for Chemo
In 1999, Ginny Hibbard, a woman from California, met some Church members and mentioned that her husband, Chuck, had recently passed away from cancer. To keep him comfortable during his chemotherapy treatments, Ginny knitted him a warm hat. She knew that these LDS women enjoyed crocheting and knitting, so she passed along the idea. Soon, women throughout the Northwest were making and donating hats to cancer patients. Soon, women throughout the Northwest were making and donating hats to cancer patients, and the project kept spreading.
Before long, the project reached Ann Senne of Schaumburg, Illinois, where she is her ward’s Relief Society president. Having lost two siblings to cancer, she felt strongly about helping such patients, and brought up the service project in a Relief Society meeting. The women embraced the idea and thirty attended an enrichment night where Ann and others taught them to crochet.
“The women in the ward took to the idea with so much enthusiasm,” Ann says. “Some of the women crochet the hats, and some are making the hats on a loom. Some women made one or two hats, and some have made seventy-five to one hundred or more.”
During their first year of knitting, together they made four hundred hats. This year they’ve made over three hundred already. Many in the ward contribute to the project, and every week a few hats are placed in a box to be distributed. Attached to each hat is a tag that reads “Chuck’s Hats for Chemo made with love from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Hats both large and small are hand-delivered to several hospitals in the area. “The hospitals are so glad to receive them, says Ann. “In fact, the sister who distributes them was at the hospital for some tests for herself, and delivered some of the hats that day. They said, ‘Oh, we are so glad to see you. We were down to our last two hats.’”
Others have pitched in for the project in other ways. Kerry Berry from Wisconsin donated five garbage bags of yarn that belonged to her recently deceased mother who had enjoyed needlework. A local fabric store donated another box of yarn. Because the women are working so quickly, it’s hard to keep up with demands. One Relief Society sister was at the hospital working on a hat, and an elderly gentleman asked her about her work. She explained the project and he consequently donated another four or five bags of yarn.
Over the months, the project has reached hundreds of cancer patients. The hats both keep them warm (in absence of the hair they lose during chemotherapy) and let them know that people love them and want to support them during their difficult time. A Schaumburg ward member who was suffering through breast cancer received a hat and personally testified of the project’s benefit.
If you’re interested in starting a similar project, talk to your Relief Society presidency or take up knitting yourself. You can also contact Ginny Hibbard at email@example.com for more information about Chuck’s Hats for Chemo or crochet patterns for hats.
“It is easy to do, fun to do, and so very necessary with all the cancer that is in our lives today,” says Ann. “It is such a wonderful feeling when the hats are delivered to know you are making a worthwhile difference in someone’s life, and that the difference is appreciated.”