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St. Louis Community Member Hand Knits Hats for SSD Staff

Dana Evans shows off her Valley Park Hat

September 1, 2023 - Dana Evans, SSD social worker in the Valley Park School District, had no idea that her compliment to a fellow colleague would lead to a very generous act of kindness. It all started when she noticed Julie Schroeder, Valley Park partner district director, wearing a cozy and comfy accessory.

“I bumped into Julie one day last school year and immediately noticed her adorable hat,” said Evans. “When she shared that her father-in-law had hand-knitted it for her, I teased that I needed him to make one for me too because I’m always looking for school spirit swag. That little joke somehow evolved into Julie and I playfully agreeing that we needed one for each of our teammates. I didn’t really give it another thought after that.”

However, the idea lingered in Schroeder’s mind. The next time she visited her father-in-law Jim Jones, she brought it up.

“When I mentioned it to Jim, I was kind of joking and just sharing my interaction with Dana,” said Schroeder. “But then weeks later, he texted me and asked for the number of hats needed and the exact colors. Jim and his wife went to countless stores to find enough yarn that matched Valley Park colors.

Jones then spent the entire summer making one to two hats each day. On top of that, he intentionally made each hat a different pattern.

“I started knitting around 2010,” said Jones. “My daughter brought me knitting supplies after I retired to keep my mind and hands busy. It keeps me active and I love giving hats to others. I also make baby hats, which I have donated to local hospitals.”

By the end of the summer, Jones had made 35 hats to give to all the staff. When Evans found out, she couldn’t believe it.

“I was really touched,” said Evans. “I knew that had to take a great deal of time and effort. It speaks volumes about Mr. Jones that he would pour this positive energy into giving our team a collective smile. It also says a lot about our leader Julie and that her passion for her team is understood and embraced by her family.”

The hats also inspired the Valley Park-SSD team to create a tagline for the 2023-24 school year: Hats Off to the New Year. It represents admiration, respect, and celebrations.