DeKALB – To keep their grandchildren warm during winter, a grandmother might knit or crochet them a hat or mittens.
Deena Kerwin of DeKalb didn’t just crochet scarves for her grandchildren this year – she made 440 scarves for all of the students, staff and faculty at Jefferson Elementary School in DeKalb, making sure the entire school keeps warm as the temperature drops.
The scarves vary in color, length and width depending on the age of the recipients. Each scarf took between an hour and a half and two hours to crochet. No two scarves are the same.
Kerwin’s daughter, third-grade teacher Kate Farris, said her mother’s scarves are treasured by everyone that receives them.
“Both kids and adults love them, it’s not every day you’re gifted with a handmade crocheted scarf,” Farris said. “With everyone receiving a scarf, nobody stands out. Nobody feels different. They feel like they’re all art of something, all one family. It also takes the pressure off of kids who could not afford one and really need it.”
Kerwin spoke to MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton over the phone to discuss why she made the scarves.
Milton: Why did you decide to crochet 440 scarves?
Kerwin: You know, I don’t really know why I did it, I just started thinking of kids who didn’t have a scarf, that they would be cold this winter. … I remember that as a single parent, I couldn’t afford to just purchase things from a store. I wanted to help others in some way, just a little.
Milton: How many years have you been crocheting?
Kerwin: I learned how to crochet more than 40 years ago. I was taught by my children’s babysitter. I made my children clothing, things like Easter jackets, vests, baby blankets and scarves here and there, but I never really did a project like this.
Milton: When did you first get the idea to make scarves?
Kerwin: A few years ago, during a very, very cold January, I was complaining about how cold it was, but I was in the car with the heat on. I saw a man walking, wearing only a thin flannel shirt and no jacket. He was embracing himself, trying to keep warm. You could tell that he was probably homeless and had no warm winter clothing. I decided to make 52 scarves, one for every week, for homeless men and donate the scarves to a local homeless shelter. Then I decided to make 52 for the women and then 52 for the children.
Milton: What happened when you took the scarves to be donated?
Kerwin: When I finished with the scarves, I took them to the homeless shelter. They said that they couldn’t accept them. I was shocked. At first they said no, and I had no idea what I’d do with so many scarves. But then they said yes and took them. After that, I stopped making scarves for a while.
Milton: When did you decide to make scarves for the school?
Kerwin: Last year, I made a few for my daughter’s classroom. My daughter, Kate Farris, teaches third grade at Jefferson Elementary School. This year, more people wanted the scarves. Everyone loved the scarves and wanted one, including other teachers, secretaries and even janitors. I started thinking of the other students, the other children. It was a big task, 440 scarves, but I thought, “Why not?”
Milton: Why was it important for you to help?
Kerwin: Doing things for people doesn’t have to cost a lot, just a little bit of time. You can do simple things, whether it’s raking leaves, shoveling snow or crocheting scarves. You can reach others and help in a small way. … People seem to complain about schools quite a bit, but if they have time to complain, they can do something to help out. They can drop off items children might need but can’t afford. You don’t have to make 440 scarves, you can volunteer or bring in school supplies like crayons and pencils. Everyone can help out.