Some people learn to knit as a way to pass time — a lifelong hobby that you can practice while sitting in front of the television or listening to music. Felton Co-op member Robin Agar-Celli enjoys the challenge of carefully crafting something from a skein of yarn, but knitting is so much more than a hobby for her. Agar-Celli founded Delaware Head Huggers in 2010. She knits and collects homemade caps that she and her family distribute to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
“When I started the group, I figured we’d get 50 hats a year. In 2018, we received over 4,000 hats. This year we’re hoping for 5,000 hats,” said Agar-Celli. She founded the group after hearing about similar efforts in neighboring Maryland. Volunteers from many states and even the United Kingdom send her knitted or crocheted hats that are then distributed to hospitals and cancer centers across the First State.
She accepts caps of all different sizes and colors — cancer does not discriminate. “I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been impacted by cancer and hasn’t lost someone from cancer. It impacts everyone across the board; men, women and children and every racial group,” she said.
Agar-Celli and her family have distributed more than 32,000 hats over the past nine years. “Chemo is absolutely wicked and tends to make people feel really cold. People lose their hair and have to go to work in the air conditioning; people need a hat on while they sleep so they don’t get cold,” said Agar-Celli.
All of the hats she knits, along with the donated caps, are shipped free of charge to anyone who requests one. Each cap must be new and handmade — Delaware Head Huggers does not accept used hats. “This is something made with love and meant to be given to someone to let them know that someone is thinking about them,” she said.
With the help of her family, Agar-Celli also runs Kozy Kovers for Kids out of her Felton home. Homemade blankets are collected and sent to hospitals and other locations throughout the state to benefit children in foster care and anyone who has experienced trauma or assault. Agar-Celli said children who are removed from a home in the middle of the night or discharged from a hospital into foster care usually have none of their belongings with them.
The blankets provide the children with something of their own to find comfort in and to carry with them as they grow. Since 2010, more than 3,000 blankets have been distributed to foster children and others suffering from a traumatic incident.
The family plans to continue to provide warmth and comfort to cancer patients and foster children for as long as they can. Agar-Celli said it makes them feel good to make a difference.
Agar-Celli said, “It can make such a huge difference to a person. I had a man call me one day in tears because his wife had been really depressed because she lost her hair and was in the hospital, crying. The nurse brought over a basket of hats and she took one. And he said it was the first time she felt like she looked pretty in months.”
Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting www.delawareheadhuggers.org.