The local Caps for Kids chapter is a “loosely knit” group, according to Jerry Burr, but he and his wife are tightly bound to Glade Run, where they distribute hand-knitted winter accessories to the youths every year.
Jerry and his wife, Louise, brought a selection of about 90 hand-knitted caps and scarves on Dec. 1, and youths could choose whichever they liked. They snapped up 56 of them, he said.
The Burrs, of Zelienople, have made an annual visit with the cold-weather gear for years. Jerry said he thinks they started in 2007.
“Back in the day, I knitted them all,” he said about the caps. Now, however, he focuses his efforts on baby caps for hospitals and didn’t make any of the Glade Run caps this year.
Knitters from St. Peter’s Reformed Church and Park United Presbyterian Church, both in Zelienople, made this year’s caps and scarves, along with Bill Smith of Beaver County and the Rev. Ralph Fogel, a retired pastor who lives in the Passavant Community, next door to Glade Run, Jerry said.
The local Caps for Kids chapter distributes handmade items to various places where children and teens need them in Butler, Lawrence and Allegheny counties, Jerry said.
“Glade Run is the only one where we spread ’em out on the table and get to see their reaction,” he said.
He and Louise, who are retired dairy farmers, enjoy being at Glade Run to see the youths make their selections.
“This girl came around and thanked us for coming and thanked us for the caps. She just seemed really touched by our coming,” Jerry said.
David was one of the Glade Run youths who selected a cap this year.
“It makes me feel good that someone made this hat just for me. It was nice to be able to pick it out myself. There were so many nice hats, I had a hard time choosing,’’ he said.
“I picked green, my favorite color. It will keep me warm this winter.”
Jerry said he and Louise are in their mid-70s, they like spending time with people from different generations, and their annual visit to Glade Run gives them an opportunity to be with young people.
He said he became interested in knitting when friends from his church, Grace Church of Harmony, introduced him to the Knifty Knitter loom, which fascinated him.
Making a cap is quick, but it “looks like it was made by a master knitter,” he said.
Over the years, he said, he has made 5,100 caps for people of various ages.
Sheila Talarico, executive director of the Glade Run Foundation, said the caps and scarves the Burrs distribute are important to Glade Run youths.
“Many of our youth come to us without many of the items that they need, including winter gear. Some youth arrive with just the clothes on their back,” she said.
“Youth are in treatment over many months, many season changes. Because our children spend time outside in recreation, physical activity, and even walking to and from our on-campus school, these items are greatly appreciated.”
And, she said, the items provide more than just physical comfort.
“Not only are these items a necessary part of a winter wardrobe in Pennsylvania, they also represent the love and care that went into their assembly,” she said.
“Knowing that someone took the time to knit these items with them specifically in mind is heartwarming to children who may not have experienced that compassion in their lives.”
About the Author
Madelyn Dinnerstein is a communications professional who previously worked for Trib Total Media, where she last was a weeklies editor whose job included being the primary editor for the North Journal and McKnight Journal newspapers. An enthusiastic juggler, she has volunteered as a juggling instructor for youths in Glade Run Lutheran Services’ residential treatment facility since 2001. Recently, she has been helping with public relations for Glade Run on a volunteer basis, as well.