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Hats for Jenny This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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My own dilemmas seemed minuscule as I tried to grasp what my mom had just told me. Aunt Jenny had been diagnosed with breast cancer? No way. I knew that my mom would never lie or – God forbid – joke about something like that, but I still couldn't believe it. I had seen my aunt just that week, and she had seemed perfectly fine. Aunt Jenny is a kind-hearted, religious, passionate mother of three boys. How could something so dreadful happen to her?

My mom and I discussed the stress that my aunt's family would be facing. She planned to send her a care package. I pulled the soft gray scarf I had just knitted from my bag. “Could you include this for her?” I asked.

Later, I would look back and realize that by sending that first scarf, I was unknowingly setting a chain of events and ideas into motion. I didn't discover how much the scarf meant to my aunt until I heard that she'd cried when it arrived and wore it constantly. During this terrible time for her, I wanted to do whatever I could to make her day brighter. If receiving cozy knitted and crocheted items made her happier, I was eager to help.

Since Jenny would soon begin chemotherapy, I crafted a hat and scarf set to send. Using all my spare time, I soon finished a blanket I had been working on all summer. It was my first blanket, crocheted entirely of scrap yarn that decorated the stitches with vibrant colors and different textures. This afghan quickly followed the hat and scarf in the mail. Aunt Jenny would take it with her to chemotherapy and my little cousin christened it “Healing Blankie.”

A month after her diagnosis, I watched my brave aunt on stage at her chuch, wearing a beret to cover her bald head, directing her choir in its holiday concert. At home after the show, she fell exhausted into a chair with a smile on her face. I handed her my latest gift: two crocheted hats in holiday paper. I was helping her in the only way I knew: giving her handmade tokens of my love and support.

Of course hats can't cure cancer. Jenny spent Christmas in bed, exhausted. How many others in the world are enduring this pain? I knew that the answer is simple: too many. This is why I called Aunt Jenny one chilly winter evening and asked her permission to start a charity in her name to donate handmade hats to women who have lost their hair as a result of chemotherapy.

In the past few months, Hats for Jenny has donated over 140 hats to oncology centers in New Hampshire. I've received incredible support and help from countless people. I certainly couldn't have done it without the help of the generous souls donating countless hours. No amount of thanks could suffice to express my appreciation to these helpers.

Though my time has been dedicated to supporting others, this project has brought me enjoyment too. Of course I found some great new patterns, but the most important benefit has been the amazing feeling I receive from working with others toward a common goal. I've loved knowing that just maybe, one of my hats will make a small difference in someone's day when she is reminded of how many people care about her welfare. My slogan is “Keeping heads and hearts warm” because my purpose is not only to cover heads but also to let patients feel the hard work and love that has gone into each cap. Any hat can warm a head, but it takes a special hat to warm a heart. If one of these handcrafted hats has touched a single heart out of the many, this project has been more than worth the effort.

I hope to continue Hats for Jenny in support of my aunt as she continues her battle. This article is dedicated to her and the passionate, sweet personality that she exhibits daily. To learn more about my cause, visit www.hatsforjenny.weebly.com.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the December 2010 Teen Ink Community Service Contest.





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fiftiesgal467This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 29, 2011 at 8:44 pm:
What a beautiful thing to do! I absolutely want to help!
 
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