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March 23, 2013

Local knitters help keep kids warm

PLATTSBURGH — Virginia Blake knitted until she had no yarn left.

The Plattsburgh woman recently donated four bags of handmade, matching hat and mitten sets to the Keep Kids Warm project at Plattsburgh Yarn and Gifts, said Sue Coonrod, owner of the store.

Between 25 and 30 people donated about 300 hand-knit mittens, scarves and hats that were distributed to children in nine local elementary schools and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) office this winter.

Business has been good at Plattsburgh Yarn and Gifts since it opened last year, and Coonrod said she felt she needed to do something to help others.

“You have to give back,” she said.

While she was working as a teacher and middle-school principal before she retired, Coonrod noticed that some children would come to school during the winter months without the proper clothing.

Some families were able to get their children winter clothes with the help of Social Services or the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity (JCEO).

“Then there were the other kids who would come to school, their parents are maybe working at the poverty level or just above it, and they were too proud to accept help or just didn’t qualify for it. Those were the kids that would say they left their mittens at home,” Coonrod said.

’FLOORED BY RESPONSE’

So Coonrod came up with the Keep Kids Warm project, placing a donation box marked with the project’s name and a hand-drawn picture of children wearing cozy winter accessories in her shop.

“I thought I’d get one basket full of things,” Coonrod said. 

But the basket filled up quickly, over and over again.

“I was floored by the response,” she said. “I started writing them down, but I couldn’t keep up with it.”

GIVING BACK

Kathy Miller of Plattsburgh donated some mittens to the cause after hearing about the project late last year.

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