Snow dudes put their heads together to keep others warm

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    SPARTA-Six Sparta High School students are up to their eyeballs in yarn, crocheting dozens of warm, colorful hats for the benefit of cancer charities. Did we mention that they are boys? That's right. Kade Madsen, 17, Justin Brzostowski, 16, Vincent Fiorentino, 17, Brian Gartside, 17, Matt Bothfeld, 16, and John Sitton, 15, have a name for their club, Winter Warmers. They are supervised by Sparta High School English teacher Dee Peselli. They proudly showed off the hats they had just finished, all 41 of them, as they packed them off in their second mailing. Their first mailing arrived at their destination, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, on Dec. 24, just in time for Christmas. It all started with Kade and Matt, who have a small business venture, an outdoor clothing label called Tank. Their merchandise is sold in local ski shops. Kade became interested in crocheting first and tried his hand at making hats. Matt saw what Kade was up to and wanted to learn the skill himself. Matt's mom, Susan, taught the boys to crochet. Together they made hats and added them to their clothing line. Their crocheting started to become infectious. Four of their friends wanted in. They all set about crocheting hats in different styles and colors, each one of them unique. When Peselli heard what the boys were doing, she asked them to crochet some hats for charity. The boys agreed, on one condition: that the hats go to cancer charities. They put their heads together and made some phone calls. They decided on three institutions: St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Tennessee, Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and Ronald McDonald House in New York City. Peselli showed a thank you letter they all received from St. Jude's. The boys plan to include other charities in the future. They will do one mailing this month and one next month. For their last project of the school year, they will sell hats at Sparta High School's Arts Festival on March 23, and will donate any money they make to St. Jude's. Peselli said that, next year, she would like to have each student recruit another student and make other kinds of crocheted articles. And if you think crocheting and schoolwork should keep the boys busy enough, they are all passionate snowboarders. Winter Warmers is starting to get some support at school. Sparta teacher Antonia Adamiak donates yarn to the cause. The boys said they hope some stores will sponsor their work or help out by donating yarn. Right now, they buy yarn with the proceeds they made from selling hats. The high school reimburses them for the cost of the mailings. Principal Richard Lio said he was very proud of Peselli and the boys, and impressed.