Island senior keeps soldiers warm, one cap at a time
When temperatures plummet in countries where U.S. troops are serving, many soldiers pull on wool knit caps that provide a layer of warmth between icy cold helmets and heads with close-cropped hair.
The helmet liners are handmade by hundreds of volunteers across the country, including Fran Resendes of Edgartown. Over the past six months, the soon-to-be nonagenarian has knitted about 50 of the caps.
Although not all of the soldiers may know where their caps came from, six in Afghanistan signed a postcard sent to Ms. Resendes, thanking her for "your thoughtful care package."
"It gives you a feeling that you're doing your part," said Ms. Resendes, who will celebrate her ninetieth birthday in June.
She learned of the project through the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), which she joined in 1975. Ms. Resendes and her three daughters are members of the Martha's Vineyard Sea Coast Defense Chapter.
Her daughter Irene Resendes learned about the hats project while attending a state DAR conference. Although the DAR does not formally sponsor the project, Patricia Gerty, a member of the Old Concord Chapter, deemed it something "right up the DAR's alley," Irene said.
Two Concord postal workers started collecting the hats from local knitters and shipping them from Wilmington, through a local organization called "Local Heroes," Ms. Gerty said. With military families, she also is collecting hats from DAR contributors for shipping in June, September, and December at Hanscom Field.
Irene came back with a pattern and started knitting the caps. The project caught her mother's interest as a good cause. "She lived through World War II, and remembers things people did to support the troops," Irene said.
Although Ms. Resendes used to knit, she said, "It took awhile, to get back into the swing of it." Now, however, she finishes a new cap about every three days.
She knits the pullover, plain-style caps with black 100 percent wool, which she said is required because synthetics are flammable.
"I enjoy it - and it takes up time," Ms. Resendes said. "I have to be doing something with my hands all the time. I don't usually work on them during the day - it's just late afternoon and early evening."