Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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Sisters honor mother by continuing hat donation project

Story by Chrissy Dill, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Head Start Hats

DURANT, Okla. – A couple of years ago, Elizabeth Adams and her sister, Esther Paris, were a part of a nation-wide group of individuals who made and sent winter hats to underprivileged children across the nation. The few hats that Elizabeth and Esther made were sent to the Choctaw Nation Head Start. Brenda Ivie and Rebecca Hawkins of the Choctaw Nation Head Start sent Elizabeth their appreciation with a thank-you letter and pictures of the Choctaw children enjoying their new hats. Although the organization Elizabeth and her sister were a part of was no longer making hats, she asked Rebecca and Brenda if they could still send them. Rebecca and Brenda excitingly accepted the kind offer, and the 310 Hats Project began.
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/> “Throughout our conversations, I mentioned that we have 310 kids that we’re funded to serve here at the Choctaw Nation,” said Brenda. “She took it upon herself to start this project to make hats for all of our children.” When Elizabeth asked Brenda if she could make the 310 hats for all of the Head Start, she was concerned. “She’ll be knitting her fingers to the bone!” said Brenda. “It’s a big project.”
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/> Though the feat of hand-making 310 hats sounds tiring, Elizabeth had the motivation she needed to accomplish it. During her first year of making hats for children, she had the help of her mother. When her mother passed away, Elizabeth continued her contribution. “She said it was a good memory of her mother and she just wanted to keep doing it because her mother was the instigator of her participation in the project,” said Brenda. “It’s a way for her to honor her mother.”
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/> With the combination of the inspiration of her mother, the help of many people who were more than happy to contribute and her own determination, Elizabeth met her goal of 310 hats in less than a year. “We kept count of how many hats were coming in with each shipment,” said Brenda. “Our last shipment came in about three weeks ago, and that gave us hats for all of our kids this year.”
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/> The shipments of hats came from Elizabeth who resides in Massachusetts, but the hats came to her from across the nation. Esther sent hats to Elizabeth from Rhode Island. There were shipments of hats made by the 8 to 10-year-old children at her church to Elizabeth from her friend in California. Elizabeth returned home from running errands one morning and found a bag of hats on her doorstep. The shipment of hats that brought Elizabeth to her goal of 310 came from Kalamazoo, Mich., straight to Durant.
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/> The shipments arrived at the Head Start “really fast,” said Brenda. “Probably less than a month between shipments.” When all of the courteous individuals participating started working and getting together it didn’t take them long to make 310 hats. “From the time she decided she wanted to make hats for all of our kids, it was less than a year until she completed it.” The least amount of hats that came to the Head Start was about 85; usually there were about 100 hats in one shipment. “They came in really quickly,” Brenda said.
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/> Brenda and Rebecca will give the kids of the Choctaw Nation Head Start their hats in “late November or early December. Definitely before Christmas,” said Brenda. “It’s going to be a big surprise to the kids when they get them.”
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Elizabeth Adams and Esther Paris have shown how big their hearts are by providing the kids of the Choctaw Nation with their winter hats. All of these individuals have made a huge effort to show they care and their participation and hard work is greatly appreciated by the children. “We appreciate so much their willingness to get involved in a project like this for children who aren’t even from their part of the country,” said Brenda. “It’s just a kindness that you don’t see very often in this day and time.”
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/> A blog of the 310 Hats Project’s progress can be found at 310-Hats.blogspot.com.