The holiday season is supposed to be about doing good to benefit others. A Morristown High School senior apparently has taken that message to heart to help needy people in Parsippany and throughout Morris County.
. Since its start last year, the teen has used her talent for knitting to fashion winter caps. The caps, including others donated by community members, are distributed to social-service nonprofits in the county, including the Interfaith Food Pantry in Morris Plains.
Emily's mother, Jill Kubin, said her daughter initially was reluctant to launch her own charitable effort.
"She was worried that she would not be able to help everyone who needed help," said Kubin. "I explained to her that even if she only makes one hat, that one hat will keep one person warm. She then realized that if she started knitting as many hats as she could, who knows how many people she could help."
With that advice under her belt, Emily began her initiative on Dec. 27, 2011. A little less than a year later, her first hat has turned into 3,700 hats. And her giving spirit has spread far and wide.
Emily has donated winter items to several NJ-based outreach organizations, including soup kitchens in Morristown and Dover, the Father English Community Center in Paterson, and the Morris Plains/Parsippany InterFaith Food Pantry in Morris Plains. She's gone beyond Morris too, helping out the Trinity Church in Asbury Park, the Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter, needy people in Elmira, NY, "Tent City" residents in Lakewood, NJ, and the Second Congregational Church in Jeffersonville, Vt.
The teen's good works have also gone abroad. Emily received a request from the organization “From Houses To Homes-Guatemala to supply hats to women and children in Guatemala.
Closer to home, she sent more than 1,500 hats to the Jersey Shore for people drastically affected by Superstorm Sandy.
"As a mom, I can not begin to explain how humbling this entire experience has been," said Kubin. "There has been a tremendous amount of support through her Facebook page. People all over the world are so supportive of Emily and her project. There are many good people in the world who are willing to help a total stranger. I think the biggest lesson that can be taken from this story is that there are teens in this world who are eager to make the world a better place for others. We just need to have faith in them that they can do it."
Emily noted that her Facebook group now has more than 1,800 members.
"Many have sent hats, scarves, afghans and yarn to us as donations," said the young woman. "I have received winter hats from as far away as Canada, Iceland and England.
"It is phenomenal how much support my initiative has received from around the world," Emily continued. "Eighteen members of our Facebook group have created independent spin-offs of Emily's Hats For Hope Initiative in their home states and in Ontario, Canada. This will allow many more people to be reached.
"My long-term goal is to have one in every state and in every country."
Area leaders and national media have taken notice. Emily has received letters of recognition from Asm. Anthony M. Bucco, Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. Last July, she was interviewed by Roseanne Colletti for NBC's "Nightly News With Chuck Scarborough."
"So often we hear negative stories in the media about teenagers getting into trouble," said Emily's mom. "Here is a teen doing something positive in her community and around the world."
Indeed, she's "changing the world, one hat at a time."
If you want to help, Emily asked for donations of winter hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, yarn (NO ANGORA PLEASE), blankets, afghans to:
Emily’s Hats For Hope Initiative
PO Box 2374
Morristown, N.J. 07962-2374