20 states help warm the heads of Bangor’s homeless

As a marathon runner, Louise Cunninghan of Veazie, has often times been reminded of just how harsh Maine winters can be. And as a graduate of the Bangor Citizen’s Police Academy, Cunningham had the opportunity to see first hand just how many are not equipped to be outside in the cold.

“It really opened my eyes to the amount of people in this area who are in need,” said Cunningham. “So many times I see people out in the cold, with no hat, or nothing on their hands … and it really bothers me.”

Using the power of social media and her enjoyment of knitting, Cunningham took it upon herself to make a difference.

“I figured I could do something to help a few of them,” she said.

A “few” quickly became 400.

Photo courtesy of the Bangor Police Department

Photo courtesy of the Bangor Police Department

“When I started the Facebook page, I expected 10 friends to make a couple hats,” said Cunningham, who works full-time at Eastern Maine Medical Center. “Within a month, 100 people signed up.”

From Maine to California, Florida to Utah, Rhode Island to Texas and several states in between, “Hats for the Homeless” was catching on to individuals and knitting groups across the country.

This past week, Cunningham dropped off the hats to the Bangor Police Department, where officers and staff helped her sort them. Then they were dispersed to local shelters and agencies where the need was greatest.

Photo courtesy of the Bangor Police Department

Photo courtesy of the Bangor Police Department

“We are just hoping to make their winter a little bit warmer,” said Cunningham.

With the first project being such a big success, Cunningham already has plans for another distribution, with a deadline of January 17th. Those interested in knitting or crocheting hats for donation can visit the organization’s Web site at Hats for the Homeless or join the Facebook group.

Even if someone is not blessed with the talent of crafting these beautiful hats, scarves or mittens, there is still an opportunity to take part in the project by donating yarn. Sewing fleece mittens is also appropriate and very much welcome.

Together, we can make sure basic needs are met.

“Isn’t that what being a Mainer is all about?” Cunningham stated. “Looking out for our friends and neighbors.”

Photos provided by Louise Cunningham

Photos provided by Louise Cunningham

Erinne Magee

About Erinne Magee

Erinne is a Maine-based writer and freelance editor specializing in first person essays, poetry and picture books. Her work has appeared in publications like: The Washington Post, Redbook, Yahoo News, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping and The Toronto Sun. For more, visit: www.erinnemagee.com