By Avery Imp, GHS class of 2023
Over the past two years, the local non-profit organization Hats4Healing has donated over 1000 handmade knitted items to pediatric cancer patients around the world, under the leadership of Greenwich High School senior Sofia Iuteri.
When Sofia was seven years old, her grandmother died from liver cancer, and she knew that she wanted to do something to help other cancer patients. She explained, “When I was younger I kind of felt like I couldn’t do much to make an impact on the cancer community, but as I got older, I realized that I could.”
At age 16, she combined her desire to help others with her passion for knitting, and Hats4Healing was born. Hats4Healing is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing handmade knitted hats to pediatric cancer patients. In addition to hats, the organization welcomes donations of other handmade items, including blankets, scarves, socks, and slippers. These items provide patients with warmth, comfort, and love, letting them know that people are thinking of them.
Sofia started by knitting on her own, but as she reached out to others at school and on social media, the organization grew quickly.
“People were just very inclined to help, and a lot of people have a personal connection,” Sofia said. “Cancer has impacted them in some way in their life, whether through a family member or them directly, so people are just eager to help.”
Currently, there are around 100 volunteers of all ages and skill levels knitting for the organization. These volunteers are not only from Greenwich but from across the United States and the globe. Sofia mentioned that one group, the Happy Hookers from the Milford Senior Center, has contributed over 500 hats to Hats4Healing.
Sofia is not stopping here. She plans to bring Hats4Healing with her to college while maintaining the organization in Greenwich. She said, “I’m headed to Lexington, Virginia, which is a small town but I think it will be fun and I can bring it to the knitting club at my school.”
Additionally, she is working on a partnership with peers in Brazil who want to support Hats4Healing. Sofia described how “the shipping costs are expensive, so they’re going to make hats and then donate them to their local hospitals and kind of start their own Hats4Healing chapter there which is really cool.”
So far, Hats4Healing has made donations to Children’s Hospital at Montefiore; Circle of Care; Yale New Haven Hospital; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; St. Peter’s Health Regional Medical Center in Montana; Instituto Nacional de Salud del Niño (INSN) San Borja in Lima, Peru; CEDIMAT in San Domingo, Dominican Republic; and Hospitál Especialidades Pediátricas (HEP) in Tuxtla-Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico.
Anyone who enjoys knitting or crocheting is welcome to donate hats or other handmade items to Hats4Healing. There are no specific patterns that knitters or crocheters have to follow and a wide range of hat sizes are accepted, from preemie to young adult. To get involved, visit https://www.hats4healing.org/.