Students knit caps, scarves for needy

By Jaye Alderson | For The Compass | November 26, 2014

Christ Caps project benefits local charitable agencies during Advent

OSHKOSH — When members of Titan Catholics, a Catholic student organization at UW-Oshkosh, decided to start a service project knitting caps and scarves, they brainstormed for a project name.

Belle Weddig, forefront, and others gather at the UW-Oshkosh Newman Center Nov. 13 to knit and crochet hats as charity for infants. The project, called Christ Caps, began in October and runs through Advent. (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)
Belle Weddig, forefront, and others gather at the UW-Oshkosh Newman Center Nov. 13 to knit and crochet hats as charity for infants. The project, called Christ Caps, began in October and runs through Advent. (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)

“We pretty much looked at the two important parts of the project,” said Jacob Philips, a senior marketing major from Appleton and executive board member for Titan Catholics. These parts included Christ, after whom their service is modeled, and caps, their service project focus.

“After about a half hour of joking around with names, someone said Christ Caps and we knew it fit instantly,” said Philips.

Titan Catholics has two main goals: to bring Catholic students together to have fun and socialize, and to bring service to the community. “We’re very involved,” said Philips, whose home parish is St. Joseph in Appleton. “Once a month, we help at the Christine Ann Center (a domestic abuse services organization). We also help out at Father Carr’s Place 2B (providing food, shelter and health services for the needy).”

He said Christ Caps is timed perfectly for the frigid early weather northeast Wisconsin has been experiencing. The arts and crafts committee, headed by senior Kaitlyn Cartwright of West Bloomfield, Wis., has been gathering once a week at the campus’ Newman Center to knit and crochet hats and scarves to donate to local and Catholic charities, such as hospitals and warming shelters.

“We think it’s a great way for people to give back to the community,” Philips said.

Fr. Jason Blahnik, Campus Catholic Ministry director, joins students in crocheting a knit cap at the UW-Oshkosh Newman Center Nov. 13. (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)
Fr. Jason Blahnik, Campus Catholic Ministry director, joins students in crocheting a knit cap at the UW-Oshkosh Newman Center Nov. 13. (Jeannette Merten | For The Compass)

Christ Caps started in October and will run through the first semester, just before Christmas. There are about 50 students involved in the organization, and their goal was to make 20 hats and scarves.

“We’ve already made 31 hats and five scarves,” Cartwright said, “so we’ve already passed our goal. But we’re going to keep going.”

The public also is encouraged to make knitted or crocheted hats and drop them off at the Newman Center as part of the effort.

Cartwright is a physics and mathematics major and has long enjoyed knitting and crocheting items to share with others. “I like to knit and I like sharing my gift for making things with other people,” Cartwright said. “My fellow Newman Center friends were interested in what I was doing and that gave me the idea to show lots of people how to knit and crochet so we could share these items with others.”

She said having a homemade hat “makes you feel more loved. It makes me feel good and warm inside, too.”

The group could use donations of yarn of any color, plastic totes and drawers for storage, crochet hooks in sizes G and H, and knitting needles in sizes 6, 7, 8 and 9.

There already have been some great successes. Some of the participating students are learning to knit and crochet just for this project and have been excited about their first completed creations, Philips said.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “Even Fr. Jason (Blahnik, Campus Catholic Ministry director) has knitted a hat.”

Philips and Cartwright acknowledge significant gifts made toward the group’s effort. The mission society and the council of Catholic women from St. Mark Parish in Redgranite, as well as Cartwright’s home parish of Sacred Heart in Poy Sippi, donated yarn and financial support.

When Cartwright posted a question to the Knitting Paradise online forum about what type of yarn would be good for this project, members from across the country made donations toward Christ Caps, as well.

Other upcoming activities for Titan Catholics include preparing a Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties; a Polar Plunge event to raise money for Special Olympics; and sponsoring a concert by Minnesota artist Luke Spehar in February. He will be performing from his latest album, “All Is Gift.”

Philips said the organization’s goal of service to the community remains a strong one.

“In today’s society, there’s a lot going on,” he said. “It’s good to do something as simple as helping out somewhere for an hour or two, or holding doors open for people, or trusting that the small things in life are what matter. It would make the world a better place if everyone did that.”

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