In previous years, the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center (DLCCC) accepted donations of mittens, gloves, hats and scarves for their Damien Mitten Tree.

This year, Engage members decided to come together and make those items, instead of just relying on donations.

"We've always had the Damien Tree at the Center," said Melia Stevenson, Engage program director. "Last summer we were doing some crafts and had somebody say 'hey, why don't we make mittens this winter?'"

Stevenson kept the idea and organized it for this winter. She received donations for the fleece for the inside of the mittens, along with some wool donations for the outside of the mittens, but also went and bought a couple 100% wool sweaters from local thrift stores.

At the 10 a.m. start to the Tuesday, Nov. 19 event, seven women were there. Each had a role -- sewing the mittens, cutting out the fleece patterns, cutting out the wool patterns or helping out wherever they were needed. They made sure to have patterns for multiple sizes with multiple designs, too.

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The mittens that Engage members made were in assorted sizes and colors, fitting for both children and adults alike. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)
The mittens that Engage members made were in assorted sizes and colors, fitting for both children and adults alike. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

"We just want to pound out mittens so everyone has warm hands for this winter," Stevenson said.

"You go to craft shows and you see all these mittens ... and you think ... you could make them," Holly Heisserer, one of the women there, said. "It's kind of a no-brainer project to do."

This isn't Heisserer's first time making mittens though. She's made mittens just like these for the Damien Tree in the past, but couldn't make that many by herself.

"Here, we can get a whole bunch made," Heisserer said. "It's a great option and a great service project."

Darcy Peterson had the same idea.

"There's nothing better than giving something to someone who needs it," Peterson said.

Although she's never made mittens, Peterson made and donated many loom hats previously. She started creating them after her husband died last year and she "wanted something to keep me busy at night," she said.

Peterson even taught the others involved in Engage how to make her loom hats. They didn't make any as she showed them, but some members returned later with the hats that they had made. Those will also be donated for the DLCCC's Damien Tree.

Darcy Peterson showed Engage members how to make loom hats, which multiple members went home and came back with their finished product (front row). Prior to the loom hats, the Engage members also made different fleece hats (back row). (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)
Darcy Peterson showed Engage members how to make loom hats, which multiple members went home and came back with their finished product (front row). Prior to the loom hats, the Engage members also made different fleece hats (back row). (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

Meeting these Engage members and becoming involved in the program has "been a lifesaver" for Peterson, she said. After her husband died, she said that she was just sitting at home, and eventually realized that she needed to be around people.

"It's exactly what it says as far as 'Engage,'" she said.

Stevenson shared that the Engage program started only last February. It's targeted toward seniors who wanted to keep a healthy lifestyle, relationships and a positive outlook on life, according to its website.

The Engage group has already taken a trip to Branson, Missouri. This summer, they went tubing down the Ottertail River. Every Monday, Stevenson hosts C+C: Coffee and Crumpets, which is a free social hour with coffee and goodies from 9 to 11 a.m.

In January, Stevenson and other Engage members will go on another trip, this time to Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre to see "Jesus Christ Superstar."

"We're really trying to get the word (Engage) out there to the community because it really is so much fun," Stevenson said. "I'm so passionate about this program."

Engage

Minneapolis Trip:

  • When: Jan. 22-23
  • What: Shopping, museum and shows
  • Cost: $250 for members, $325 for nonmembers
  • Deadline: Nov. 30

Coffee and Crumpets:

  • When: Every Monday, 9-11 a.m.
  • Where: DLCCC lower arts level
  • Cost: Free

Contact: 218-844-4221, Ext. 218, or email Melia@dlccc.org.