Worldwide Civic Scholar
Founder, Emily’s Hats for Hope
By Christopher Hann
I was a junior in high school at the end of 2011. Originally it was just me. I learned how to make hats, so I decided: Why not do good with it?
I knew there was a need to help the homeless and working poor, particularly in Morristown [N.J.], where I’m from. Initially I made eight hats and took them to the local mission. Before long, hundreds of people were learning about my organization.
Originally I was knitting the hats, but it takes about four hours per hat. So I learned how to use a loom. It’s easier, and it takes a lot less time than a needle.
We bought a bunch of looms. People also donated them to Emily’s Hats for Hope. The people making hats at Drew, we let them use my looms and my yarn. We’ve had hundreds of pounds of yarn donated from all over the country.
It started out with me sitting in my room and making a hat. It turned into something worldwide, just by taking something as simple as hats and making a difference with it.
We have almost 40 spin-offs all over the world. We have groups in Vermont, Canada, California, Australia and Denmark. We don’t know everyone else’s numbers, but our group has made and collected 12,400 hats.
I didn’t think it was possible for one person to have an impact like this. I really thought it would be just me making hats for the soup kitchen in my town.
We have between 10 and 15 Drew students helping, whether making hats or delivering them. We’re planning on making this a club. It would be amazing if I can get more of the Drew community involved.
I’ve grown up with my family helping at soup kitchens or volunteering at women’s shelters. But I’ve never had such an immersion into a nonprofit.
I was accepted into Drew’s Civic Scholars program. A lot of the kids who brought hats home or are making hats are in this program.
I definitely want to have this as part of my life for my whole life. I hope to have this become an established volunteer opportunity for people in the Drew community. I’d like it to be something that will live on here after I leave.
They’re part of an ever-growing group at Drew, now topping 100.
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