Novice seamstresses create hats for the homelessFamily and consumer education teacher Deb Gangnon is enjoying the kind of payback teachers love — seeing students not only learn but use what they’ve learned to help others.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
Family and consumer education teacher Deb Gangnon is enjoying the kind of payback teachers love — seeing students not only learn but use what they’ve learned to help others.
Hudson Middle School eighth-graders Clara Malanaphy and Sophie Tuchel have done just that. The best friends took Gangnon’s “Techno-Sewing” class as an elective. Neither girl had ever sewn before and wasn’t sure they would like it but they enjoyed learning how to make the fleece hat Gangnon chose as a project. They decided to make hats as Christmas presents for family and that’s when they hit on the idea to expand their gift-giving this season. They would make hats for homeless children who needed them.
First up were the materials. Malanaphy holds an annual birthday party where friends sleep outdoors in cardboard boxes to get a feel for what being homeless is like. Instead of gifts for her, she asks her guests to donate whatever they would spend on a present and she pays it forward. This year she and Tuchel decided to take the $150 from the party and buy supplies for some 70 hats. They got the pattern from Gangnon. In fact, they got more than one as they wore them out. As they gained experience they customized the original design.
The girls say they can make four hats in two hours using a sort of production line. “It goes pretty fast if you stay focused but that doesn’t always happen. We can get a little crazy sometimes,” said Tuchel.
“It was great spending so much time together. And helping someone out is kind a gift in itself.”
The hats will go to People Serving People in the Twin Cities. The girls report that they were very excited to hear about their donation, especially since the gifts were “useful and warm.”
Gangnon said she was excited to learn of the girls’ plan. She believes skills like sewing can have lifelong benefits for students. “It is great to be able to make things you can use but it is also a great stress reliever and a creative outlet. It is wonderful to see these two so motivated. I’m very proud of them,” said Gangnon.
Malanaphy’s mother, Liz, believes the girls’ initiative is a sign of good things in Hudson schools.
“In this day of budget cuts and questions that arise about curriculum at school, this is a great example of why something outside of the ordinary limits of reading, writing and arithmetic, can be very empowering for kids.”
The girls intend to continue sewing. Their next project will be “Autism Awareness Hats.” Stay tuned.