By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Westborough 300th Committee has far exceeded its goal of collecting 300 pairs of mittens for local people in need. Children and adults of all ages recently came together to help their neighbors and to commemorate the town’s upcoming anniversary. With 549 pairs of mittens and gloves collected, many children and adults will have a brighter, warmer winter.
It all started with an idea from Peggy O’Neil Favrot, a member of the committee. During a brainstorming session, she suggested holding an activity that would allow everyone a chance to give back while being part of the celebration.
“I suggested collecting 300 books or 300 mittens in honor of our town’s 300th anniversary,” recalled Favrot, who said the mittens idea was embraced by the committee. “Collecting mittens seemed like a happy seasonal thing to do that would appeal to children as well as adults. They could create or donate a pair and warm a heart with their kindness.”
Favrot, who became co-chair of the project along with Michele Conway, said that after they contacted Westborough schools and churches and left snowman-themed collection boxes at around 20 locations, the response they received was “nothing short of amazing.” The donations poured in.
Students at the Mill Pond School were among those who were excited about the project. Members of the school’s Student Council created posters and additional collection boxes to promote the drive. They also gave presentations in every homeroom and made morning announcements. Favrot said they were grateful for the kids’ commitment, which led the students to collect more than all the other schools combined.
She was also amazed at the amount of hand-knit or crocheted mittens that were donated.
“I’d estimate that 60 percent of the returns have been wonderfully handmade in a variety of colors and designs and sizes,” said Favrot. “This town has some very accomplished and prolific knitters, and I thank them for their time and skills.”
One of those knitters is Joan Ames, a member of the Willows Knitters group that has made thousands of cozy hats for children in need over the past 22 years. Favrot said that Ames read about the project and responded quickly.
“She very enthusiastically asked how she could be of help,” said Favrot. “In the course of six weeks, Joan knitted 40 pairs of the most beautifully done mittens. Seeing an interview of her in the press was one of the highlights for me in this campaign. She has continued on and contributed another 10 pairs!”
Ames, whose first knitting project was a pair of mittens she knitted when she was around 10 years old, couldn’t have been more delighted to lend a hand. She recalled reading about the mittens drive.
“I thought ‘Oh, knitting mittens! I’ll do a few pairs,’” she said. “Before I knew it, I actually made 50 pairs.”
But although it was a fun project, she said that it also touched her heart. Because she has knitted many hats for underprivileged kids and received many notes of gratitude, she’s aware of the need that exists.
“We know how much they appreciate it…and we know how much they can use them,” Ames shared. “It was a very worthwhile project, and it was something I love to do, so it just sort of went together.”
Ames, Favrot, Conway and everyone involved were thrilled with the outpouring of kindness. Batches of the mittens and gloves have already been delivered to places such as the Westborough Department of Youth Services, Abby’s House, Friendly House, Horizons for Homeless Children and Jeremiah’s Inn. Because the drive was so successful, Favrot said they have pairs to give to school nurses. They’ll also give pairs to churches that have a need as well.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the response from my hometown,” Favrot said.