Hats made by low-level offenders donated to Children's Village

More than 200 hats made by low-level criminal offenders were donated to Oakland County’s Children’s Village on Thursday, Dec. 6, to help keep the Village residents warm this winter.
The low-level offenders are part of the Weekend/Weekday Alternative for Misdemeanants (WWAM) program administered by the county’s Community Corrections Division under the leadership of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

“The WWAM program has proven to be a win-win initiative,” Patterson said. “It saves taxpayers the cost of incarcerating low-level offenders while reserving space in jail for offenders who truly pose a threat to the public.  Plus, WWAM provides community service work for a number of Oakland County governmental units, local municipalities and other non-profit agencies that most likely would not have the finances to pay for costly projects.”

The WWAM program, which requires participants to work eight hours per day at a nonprofit agency doing interior and exterior work on facilities, was not previously an option for offenders with physical or medical restrictions because of the physical nature of the work. To respond to that need, Community Corrections Division created Warm Wear under the WWAM program with the support of the Board of Commissioners.

Warm Wear participants knit hats on a circular loom. The physical requirements needed for using a knitting loom are minimal.  It takes approximately two to three hours to create each unique knit hat. In addition to
Children’s Village, hats will also be donated to local homeless shelters and non-profits such as the Lighthouse of Oakland County.

Community Corrections Division Manager Barb Hankey modeled the Warm Wear program on one started by Sister Fran at Our Lady of the Lakes in Waterford.  Sister Fran makes hats all year long then brings them to the school around Thanksgiving.  Students can purchase the hats for $5.  For each hat she sells she can buy enough yarn to make two hats - one to sell, and one to donate.

“I thought ‘What a great way to give back to the community.’ It’s so simple,” Hankey said.


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