Meet Claudia, the Creative Force Behind the Hand-Knit Hats
Claudia – a retired education professional turned volunteer who has lived in East Brunswick for over 40 years, has not only embraced the art of knitting but also found a meaningful way to contribute to the community. In an recent interview, she shared insights about her motivation and passion for giving back. Having discovered JFS’ Holiday Gift Drive through a simple Google search for local organizations, Claudia expressed her eagerness to contribute to the community.
On the Influence Behind Making Winter Hats:
“My mother taught me how to knit long ago. I knit and crochet. But I stopped for a long while when I got out of college, started working and had my family. I picked it up again by knitting scarves—nothing elaborate—but I then worked on hats. A few years ago, I started volunteering at the Aldersgate [Outreach Community Center]—at the Thrift shop. They have a Christmas program there, and one year they needed hats, so I decided to knit some for the kids there. Last year, my friend Diane moved down the shore and told me about the Madonna House—I knitted hats to donate there. This year, like I said, I googled a local organization to donate to, and found JFS.
I was a director of two different preschools in Queens, before I got pregnant, and started my family. We moved to East Brunswick in 1976, and I wasn’t working for a while. I got back to teaching preschoolers after a friend told me about her school needing teachers. I applied, I even wrote my resume in pencil and got a job. For years, I enjoyed giving my all to the kids and preparing them for kindergarten.
Now, I knit and volunteer. Knitting these hats makes me feel good. Knowing that I am giving. It’s absolutely my pleasure to do this. I once had an opportunity to see people pick a hat from the hats I knitted, and watching them, I meekly thought, “I made that” – even though it’s a little something, it’s nice to see people need something I made.”
On the Impact of Handmade Hats:
“I want the kids to know someone cares.”
On Materials and Designs:
“For the boys’ hat, I follow a simple straight stitch. For the girls, I keep it interesting and do different patterns.”
On Community Contributions:
“You’ll find it is worth giving. The little things can make anyone happy…I’m not a philosophical person, but I know family comes first. And staying connected to the community is important.”
On Future Initiatives:
“I’ve already started knitting for next year’s donations. I have three done. I’m looking forward to making hats for adults and giving them to Elijah’s Promise and making women’s and children’s hats for JFS.”
Beyond the Needles: Claudia’s Life Outside Knitting
When Claudia isn’t busy knitting, she enjoys reading and spending quality time with family and friends. Reflecting on her deep sense of community in East Brunswick, Claudia emphasized the importance of staying connected and involved. She enjoys volunteering at Aldersgate Outreach Community Center’s Thrift Shop and Food Pantry. To learn more about this AOCC click here>>
Claudia’s commitment to making a positive impact through small, personal contributions serves as a heartening reminder that even the simplest gestures can bring joy and warmth to those in need, especially during the holiday season. JFS is extremely grateful to Claudia for her incredible dedication and the labor of love she poured into knitting hats for the children in our community.