CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — One tough night with her son opened Melissa Wilson’s eyes to an opportunity to help others.
“My son has severe hemophilia. We had to go to the hospital one day… and he said, ‘Mom I want a dinosaur beanie’,” says Wilson, founder of The Brave Beanie Project. “I’m not exactly the best crocheter, but I worked that entire night and the next day I had it done so that we could wear it. And it changed the whole day for him.”
She says when her son put on that dinosaur beanie, it was no longer a routine appointment… it was a chance to smile.
After that moment, she knew making custom beanies could help other children facing illness by allowing them to transform into whoever they wanted to be.
“Superheroes and princesses. I mean, you name it. The sky’s the limit for what we can create for these kids,” says Wilson.
Since 2018, Wilson and her team of volunteers have delivered almost 2,000 beanies in State College and across the country.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson says they were cautious to not spread germs through the products and all the hats are delivered by nurses. Now, those precautions are heightened and each beanie goes through a quarantine of its own.
“There’s a little grace period where we spray it with Lysol and it has to incubate for ten days to make sure there’s nothing on it before we can ship it.”
The Brave Beanie Project is currently looking for nominations for four hospitals to receive a gift of ten beanies.
“We try to do five boy designs and five girl designs in varying sizes and characters,” says Wilson.
Through the end of the week, you can nominate a hospital to receive these beanies by visiting their website.
Wilson says it’s a privilege to help make these children’s days a little brighter.
“Especially for the kids with cancer, Alopecia, that don’t have hair left… it’s like you gave them their hair back,” she says. “And they don’t have their hair, they have Disney princess hair!”
Nominations for a child to receive a custom beanie remain open year round.
The project is also looking for local State College volunteers to help assemble beanies… no needlework experience required.