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Mitten Tree a giving tradition

By Staff | Dec 7, 2012

The Heart of America Library is continuing to carry on a tradition that has kept area kids warm for decades.

The annual “Mitten Tree” is up at the library, decorated with a variety of hats, mittens and scarves.

The tree, which librarian Vicky Harmel said has been in existence for 25 years, is an opportunity to keep the chill out each winter.

“Folks just donate handmade, new or gently used hats, gloves, mittens and scarves to the tree,” Library Director Sheila Craun said. “This really benefits a wide range of children and people. It’s nice to know they can still go outside and play.”

Harmel said last year the library had a great turnout of people donating to the tree, including some residents who sew scarves specifically for the tree.

“Little Flower and Ely are always the recipients,” Harmel said. “Last year we had so many things that we had enough to give to Wolford School and to the Growing Place daycare.”

Craun said donations are taken through the calendar year and the items will be distributed in January.

“We’ve been getting things in since the beginning of October,” Craun said. “People have been donating to the ‘Mitten Tree.’ It’s pretty nice that they look forward to donating.”

Although Harmel said she is certain the tree has been a tradition lasting more than 25 years, no one at the library knows who started it or how the idea was spawned.

Regardless, Craun said it’s something that the community looks forward to every year.

“It’s a library tradition and we’re just going to carry it on,” Craun said.

Harmel said it’s not unusual for a student to be using materials in the library and ask a staff member how they can get some of the items on the tree.

“The kids maybe have their eye on something they’d like to have,” Harmel said.

Harmel said the people who sew or knit items use the tree as an extra outlet for giving over the holidays.

“The thought behind the ‘Mitten Tree’ for those people, their heart is really there,” she said.

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