81: Freedom Hats

81: Freedom Hats

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering & Giving Back

Freedom Hats

In the rhythm of the needles, there is music for the soul.

~Author Unknown

A few years ago my granddaughters took a class in knitting. They came home and told me, “Grandma, you need to learn.”

I replied, “When I get old and sit around I will learn.”

Then, right after Christmas, I watched as my friend knitted hats for her boys with this little gadget called the Knifty Knitter. As I watched her make a hat in only a couple of hours it sparked my interest.

I purchased the knitter and some yarn. First, of course, all my family members had to have matching hats and scarfs. Then I found that Save the Children needed hats for children in Africa. Before I knew it I was addicted! Whenever I was sitting down, in a meeting, watching TV, or wherever, I was knitting. It relaxed me and gave me purpose knowing I was helping someone somewhere. I worked with several other ladies and we filled a box with 140 hats to send off.

I tried to stop after that, but I could not do it! I had to continue. I have three baskets where the hats go as I finish them.

I am a burn survivor, and the next August I was preparing to go to our annual World Burn Congress. As I was getting my stuff together I looked over at the hats. Hey, I thought to myself, I can take the hats and sell them to burn survivors for a donation to the Phoenix Society.

After getting permission, the hats and I were off to New York City for our event. I quickly put them out on the Phoenix table with a sign asking for a $10 donation and went to my first session.

I don’t remember how many hats there were, at least thirty, but when I checked later that night most of the hats were gone. At the end of the evening one of my longtime burn survivor friends came up to me with tears in her eyes. She held me close and said, “Thank you for the hat. I have not felt this free in a long time.” As I looked at her pretty face I realized she was not wearing her wig. Instead she was wearing one of our pretty hats with a flower on it. For the next few days many women came up and thanked me for the hats. I never imagined that my addiction would make such a difference in so many lives.

Not long after I returned home I received an e-mail from a friend in South Carolina who runs a burn foundation. She reported that the “Freedom Hats” were a hit! Now the hats had a name!

Since then, many Freedom Hats have been delivered to burn centers. They are being used in Sacramento at the Shriners Hospital, given to children with tissue expanders on their little heads.

Not long ago I was visiting the hospital and there was a sweet little three-year-old girl crawling around me and my basket of hats. She was born without feet and was there for prostheses. I looked at her. “Would you like a hat for your pretty little head?” I asked. Her smile was as big as sunshine and she nodded her head. We found just the right hat and she crawled excitedly to her mom. My social worker friend called a few weeks later to report that the little girl and her mom came back for a checkup. The first thing they asked for was another hat! Apparently the little girl refused to take her hat off. She wore it day and night. Her mother just wanted to wash it. “Of course,” my friend said, “she can have another hat.” No problem.

As she picked another one out, her mom went on to explain that when she wore the hat, everyone noticed how pretty she looked and did not see she had no feet. What a difference a little hat made!

As long as there is a need I will continue to make Freedom Hats for burn survivors and others who need them. These hats are a token of my love.

~Susan Lugli

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