Madeira mitten drive connects to wider community

February 17, 2014

Beginning in December, the sophomore class community service committee initiated a campus-wide collection of winter gear to give to those less fortunate during the winter season. Little did we know that the mitten drive would connect us to a wider community of individuals caring for the welfare of others.

Organized by co-heads Nora Canellakis and Carson Peters, the Mitten Drive received strong Madeira community support. A total of 60 items were donated during the week-and-a-half collection period. The collection included an assortment of gloves, mittens, jackets, scarves, pants, head warmers, and hats. In order to find an organization to donate the winter gear to, D.C. resident, Nora Canellakis contacted The Friends Meeting of DC, which is a religious society of Quakers. Cynthia Terrell was immediately recommended as a regarded member of the Friends Meeting and from her work with homeless children of the DC area. This much appreciated collection of winter gear was then transported from the Madeira campus to the house of philanthropist, knitting devotee, and voting reformer, Cynthia Terrell.

Cynthia Terrell is a mother and primarily works at non-profit organization, FairVote . She is also director of Representation 2020. Although typically involved in the political sphere, Mrs. Terrell first became involved with homeless children in D.C. by reading Washington Post articles about the rising number of children and families that end up homeless. Discussing the frequently overcrowded homeless shelters that are not equipped to house children, Mrs. Terrell remarks “It is unbearable to think that my own children have many hats and warm things to spare while these children do not. My family, and others like ours, have so much more than we need.”

By pairing with the D.C. Department of Housing, Martha’s Table, A Wider Circle, and contacts in her Quaker Meeting. Ms. Terrell was able to establish connections to donate crafts made in her knitting groups. Mrs. Terrell reached out to other knitters and collected knitted items from all over the country during the summer and fall to give to homeless children during the winter. She asked knitters to attach a note with each of their crafts donated hoping that the children who read the notes will have the sense that there are adults in the bigger world who care about their well-being. “Even though a knitted hat seems like a very small token in light of the huge challenges of housing costs, stagnated wages, and other expenses which make home ownership hard for many in this area, I think we must start with what we can do,” remarked Ms. Terrell.

Her goal is to help homeless children stay warm in shelters, cars, or streets but also to gift children with a handmade item in “the hope that they would somehow feel the love and concern that went into the creation of the hat or scarf or mitten.” Working with children specifically inspires Mrs. Terrell to work towards a thriving community where everyone has housing, jobs, education and healthcare. She believes that “if we want children who are currently homeless to find their role in society as adults I think we must be attentive to their needs now.”

The Madeira School, as one family of people who have so much, helped Ms. Terrell with her goal by donating our winter gear. It is amazing to see how one box of sixty items connects to a whole community of individuals who look to improve the living conditions of those around us. It was a privilege to have worked with such an engaged member of the D.C. community, in order to give donations to children of the local DC area.

Student Life