For five years now, Donna Kimmel of Oklahoma City has been crocheting hats and donating them to Durangoans in need.
“I start about August, and I have a goal,” the 71-year-old Kimmel said. “This year, it was a hundred.”
The project got started one winter when Kimmel’s daughter-in-law Keena told her about seeing a poorly clad man shivering in the cold outside her White Rabbit Books & Curiosities store on the river walk.
“I just hate that people are suffering in the cold,” Kimmel said. “If you can keep your head warm, you can keep pretty warm overall.”
So every year, Kimmel crochets and sends the hats to Keena, who displays them outside the shop with a sign that reads, “It’s cold out. Need a hat? Take one. Made with love by Mama D.”
Kimmel said her daughter-in-law put 50 of the hats on display Dec. 1 this year and they were gone before the holidays heated up. The other 50 were taken by a volunteer, with Kimmel’s blessing, to people living at Purple Cliffs.
As you read this, many of you may be feeling very grateful that the economic disaster of COVID-19 has not touched your homes.
But many of our neighbors are not doing so well. They’ve lost their jobs or their businesses are on the rocks. They’ve run out of savings and they’ve sold anything extra for which they could manage to find a buyer.
If you count yourselves among the lucky, we’d like to make a suggestion: Give some of that luck away.
The most obvious way to do that is to give a struggling friend, neighbor or family some of your largesse.
Put some cash in a greeting card along with a note that says something like, “I know you’re having a hard time, and I know you would help me if the tables were turned.” You can sign it or do it anonymously if that feels better.
If you think a friend might feel uncomfortable with a gift of cash, buy a gift credit card instead, one they can use anywhere.
Don’t personally know anyone who needs financial assistance?
Consider making a donation to one of the area’s nonprofits that provides direct assistance to people in trouble in the Durango area.
Here are a few possibilities. You can make a donation directly on their websites or call for other ways to contribute:
‰ La Plata Family Centers Coalition provides payments for utilities and housing and serves as a referral source to other social service organizations. 385-4747, www.lpfcc.org.
‰ Pine River Shares provides food directly to families and serves as a conduit to distribute growers’ excess in the Bayfield area. 884-6040, www.pinerivershares.org.
‰ Housing Solutions of the Southwest helps people find housing quickly, especially in emergency situations. 259-1086, www.swhousingsolutions.com.
And let’s not forget our furry friends at this time.
‰ La Plata County Humane Society provides shelter, adoptions, spay/neuter and vaccine clinics and more. (970) 259-2847, www.lpchumanesociety.org.
The hat project has helped Kimmel stay connected despite missing visits to her son Jason and Keena in Durango during 2020. But she met her goal so early this year, she recently told her daughter-in-law she was suffering crocheting withdrawal.
When we reached Kimmel by phone for this interview, she and her husband were in the car.
He was driving.
She was crocheting a hat. Of course.
Do something extra kind for someone else this holiday season. The payoff, according to “Mama D”?
“It’s more than enough to bring a smile to someone’s face during these crazy times,” she said.