A local Madison group reuses old sweaters to make mittens, donating all proceeds to three local Madison food pantries.
ReMitts has grown each year since 2009, increasing the number of drop-off locations to 23 around the Dane County area.
Janet Tupy, the founder of ReMitts, said she created the group after reading an article in a newspaper about a church that asked its congregants to take $100 and raise money for other causes.
Tupy decided to try this herself and spent $100 at a Dig & Save in Madison, purchasing 100 percent wool sweaters. She got a group together and started making mittens. They hoped to make $1000 and ended up raising $4000.
One of the benefactors is the St. Vincent de Paul church, which Tupy said supplies the majority of their wool sweaters. The sweaters that don’t meet the criteria to sell at their thrift stores go to ReMitts.
One of the other benefactors, River Food Pantry, received $9,000 in 2014 and $9,200 in 2015, said Jenny Czerkas, the executive director of the pantry.
Czerkas said ReMitts is an important group because it brings awareness to hunger issues and the overwhelming need.
“Feeding people isn’t free,” Czerkas said.
Czerkas said they estimate for every $10, they give away about $100 worth of food.
Tupy said the mittens are free for a donation of $30 or more through a check written directly to the food pantry of their choice. If people are feeling the Wisconsin spirit, ReMitts also makes mittens with the Motion W and Bucky Badger for donations of $40 or more.
Tupy said the group makes the mittens year-round, but currently is in the busiest season. By Oct. 1 they created about 1,000 pairs of mittens.
Besides the occasional fleece purchase for the lining of the gloves, Tupy said almost all thread, buttons and sweaters are donated to make the mittens.
“Taking something that is destined to be thrown away and turning it into something as useful as food for people, I think that has been the most satisfying,” Tupy said.