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Parent of SSD Employee Donates Handmade Hats and Scarves to SSD Critical Needs Coat Drive

Jelinek, Keeling, and her grandaughter smile next to handmade hats and scarvesNovember 11, 2021 - The winter months can be a joyful time for many, welcoming family and feeling the magic of the holiday season. But for some, winter can mean chilly nights and cold days. To help students stay warm during the winter months, SSD coordinated the Critical Need Coat Drive to collect new coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. Jackie Jelinek saw this as a great opportunity to gift handmade items crafted with love and warm wishes to those in need. 

Jelinek’s hobby came to fruition after she made the decision to start working part-time and use her extra time helping others. “I had read articles stating that knitting was a good skill set to help with cognitive development while aging,” she said. “I decided making items of warmth would help others and myself.”

After connecting with some-like minded individuals on a bus trip and during craft runs, a small group of ladies joined together to knit and crochet items for others. Each item is carefully crafted with love and care in every stitch. 

“To each person receiving an item, we want them to know that it was thought out with a small group of ladies who send warmth and caring in each stitch, and sent forth with a blessing,” said Jelinek. “My heartfelt gratitude to Carol McFadden, Shirley Cullup, Pat McClain, and Debbie Rimmel who help keep me motivated.” 

“My daughter, Jennifer Keeling [assistive technology assistant], and granddaughter, Jacqueline Fechter [teacher assistant in Lindbergh School District], are both SSD employees. My group wouldn’t be able to do this if they didn’t help us by coordinating, picking up, and delivering items, which is my biggest challenge. Jennifer and Jacqueline do so much and have learned that it takes a village to help fulfill this small mission of ours.”

Prior to the pandemic, the group donated approximately 450 items each year to numerous organizations, including SSD. Items have been donated to area hospitals, doctor offices, children’s charities, churches, but they’ve also made it as far as Nepal! 

“We are so appreciative of the wonderful hand knitted hats and scarves that Jennifer Keeling’s mom Jackie and her lovely friends have contributed to the Critical Needs Coat Drive,” said Meg Lovera, SSD social worker and coordinator of the SSD Critical Needs Coat Drive.

SSD’s Critical Needs Coat Drive is accepting donations of new coats (size 3T-2XL), hats, scarves, and gloves through Jan. 14. Donations can be dropped off at SSD Central Office, 12110 Clayton Road, Town & County, MO 63131. Online donations are being accepted this year through the Special Education Foundation (SEF). The average cost of a coat is $30.