The Mitten Lady: hands and hearts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The Mitten Lady: hands and hearts


by Sunny Layne

ARLINGTON (KWWL) -- As the warmth of the holidays near, the weather inevitably turns colder. But one eastern Iowa woman makes sure no young child leaves her presence without a gift to warm them - inside and out.

Teri Crossman, "The Mitten Lady," is someone you should know.

"I love to knit."

Her name: Teri Crossman, but thousand s of children simply call her "The Mitten Lady." 

"He had no mittens," Crossman read in a story to a class of children.

It all started when this former teacher had a first-grader with a problem.

"He said 'Ms. Crossman, I can't go to recess all week,' cuz the rule was if it was below 40 degrees without mittens you stayed inside," she said.

Immediately, Crossman picked up her needles and knit the student a pair of mittens. Soon she realized other students needed mittens, too.

"Once it started it just grew," she said.

Thirteen years and thousands of hours later, Teri Crossman has knit 5, 030 pair of mittens for school children.

"She has to knit a lot, so she helps a lot of people," first-grader Connor Boardman said.

"Some of our students have families that are struggling financially," Principal Sandy Klaus said. "And for someone to come in and give something so warm and so meaningful to our students is wonderful."

Now a tradition at area schools like Starmont in Arlington, each year Crossman reads students a book called The Mitten Tree about a woman who knits children mittens. Then she makes a special announcement.

"I want you all to select a pair of mittens," she says.

"I get a lot more out of giving mittens than they do," Crossman said. "It's not unusual to see a child without mittens and slip them a pair from my purse."

"I think they'll remember all the kindness that has been done to them and will want to pay it forward," Klaus said.

Some students have already beaten the cold and caught the giving fever.

"I want to knit," second-grader Elizabeth Kirby said. "Because it helps people with their cold days."

"I don't think I'm willing to stop," Crossman said.

Crossman says she'll continue knitting, because she's found that in warming hands, she also warms hearts. 

The Mitten Lady makes most of her mittens from donated yarn. She has knit more than 650 pair just this year.

Online Reporter: Sunny Layne 

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