Hats for Hunger was founded in 2008 by Andrew Castle when he was 9 years old. He was inspired by a Heifer International catalog, and decided to make a difference himself. He combined his love of animals and knitting to start Hats for Hunger. We asked Andrew a few questions about his 2010 goal to raise $5,000 for a Gift Ark:
-Why did you choose Heifer International? For Christmas 2007, my grandparents let us chose an animal from the Heifer catalog. That was the first I had heard of Heifer and I loved the concept of providing people with the tools to improve their lives. Rather than a food handout, the gift of animals creates self-sustainability. A gift to Heifer has an exponential impact on the lives of communities. -How did you come up with the goal of 5k? The first year of Hats for Hunger, I raised $1,500. The second year, I had a lot of academic commitments and only raised $700 which I donated to the Vermont Foodbank. For 2010, I had a goal of $3,000, but Noland Hoshino (lead Heifer volunteer in Portland) got me excited about the idea of raising $5,000 to buy a gift ark.
-How did you learn to knit hats? I learned to knit when I was 7 as part of a school project. -Just how many hats have you made this past year? This past year, I haven’t knit any because the volunteer knitters have done such an amazing job! The first year of Hats for Hunger, my brother, mother and I knit all of the hats and it was overwhelming. $1,500 of hats is a LOT of hats! Many were custom hats, but the most fun was creating new designs. The most popular hat that year was the “valentine hat” with a heart on top.
-How many volunteer knitters are there? We have over 80 volunteer knitters/crocheters around the country (and one in England). They are an amazing group of people and have given so generously of their time and effort. We have a group on Ravelry.com which was started by Hannah, an amazing 9 year old in Minnesota. She and her family have donated over 100 hand knit hats to Hats for Hunger. Also, a group of knitters in Virginia called K1-D2 did a hat drive throughout the state at yarn stores and collected 297 hats. Fortunately, they arrived the day after Thanksgiving because they took over our dining room. -What is your favorite part about H4H? At first, it was knitting the hats and getting H4H started that was the most fun. Now it’s watching the growth of the company and seeing how many people are excited to get involved. In just a few months, we went from 150 Facebook friends to over 1,000! That has been pretty cool. (www.facebook.com/hatsforhunger)
-What goals do you have for 2011? My goal is to raise $10,000 for Heifer International. Also, I’d like to introduce a “Premium” line of hats this year. Many of the donated hats are made with high-end fibers (alpaca, cashmere, merino wool, etc) and have incredible handwork. They should sell for more than $20. I’d like to add a chart to the website to show how each hat helps to pay for animals via Heifer. For example, a $20 hat pays for a flock of chicks or ducks. A $30 hat pays for honeybees. A $10 hat buys a share of a pig, etc.
-If there is any additional information you’d like to add that would be great, too. 100% of profits goes directly to Heifer International. We have virtually no overhead since almost all of the hats and yarn are donated. Someone who buys a $20 hat is essentially getting a two for one deal. $20 goes to Heifer AND they get a cool hat. Also, our customers often buy extra hats to donate to homeless shelters and children’s homes.