By Jenna Steinlage

Crochet for the Babes is a project that students of Union PEAK, Partners in Education and Knowledge, are taking part in. Crocheting is an outlet for students who are struggling, both at school and at home, to forget all their worries and come out with a finished product they can be proud of.

Little Hats, Big Hearts is a project through the American Heart Association recommended by Jennifer Gates, one of Union’s science teachers. The program asks individuals to craft red baby hats which are then sent in and will be distributed to hospitals to give to newborn babies in the month of February to raise awareness of congenital heart diseases and defects.

“There are many health benefits to crocheting, then as I started thinking about it, it is a really nice, calming, stress-relieving activity,” said Elizabeth Zondo, Union’s At-Risk coordinator. “I realized the power it might have, not only to help students, but to show them the power of giving and what it does for you as an individual.”

In Zondo’s classroom, when students don’t have anything to work on, they will grab their projects and continue working on it. Zondo believes this is a much better option than not getting anything done or distracting other students trying to finish their assignments.

“I’m always looking for new ideas to help my students grow, and not everyone will be interested in it, but it’s nice to have diverse activities and experiences, Zondo said. “This one has been particularly effective. I am surprised how many people want to learn, and I think that’s awesome.”

Zondo is estimating around 15 students participating, but is unsure of the exact number because it is growing each day due to the outpouring amount of people wanting to learn.

“I appreciate all the support we have gotten and all the students who have had good attitudes and efforts, because I know it can be frustrating learning something new,” Zondo said. “But if you keep after something you like, in the end it’s all worth it.”

Zondo began the project by creating a Donors Choose page, which is an organization to help teachers fund tools for their classroom. She compiled all of the crocheting hooks and skeins and put them in a list. Overall, it came together to be $350. Anyone was welcome to help fund her project at the school. Within only a few days, just eight donors had raised all the money.
Participating students are also very grateful and are writing thank-you letters to every person who donated through the website, or who donated yarn to the classroom.

“I think this gives people the chance to pause and reflect on themselves and their own habits,” said Zondo. “Healthy people start by looking at themselves and what they can change, so I would say that it is already having a positive impact.”