By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
Summerville High School student Charley Pierce wrote a simple message into a small card: "I made this hat for you so you feel a little better! Your friend, Charley Pierce."
He sealed the card in a light blue envelope and tucked it into the hand-sewn hat that will soon be sent to the Stanford Children's Center along with about 30 others.
The hats are being made in memory of Melissa Van Bolt, an 18-year-old Summerville High graduate who died of leukemia in July. While being treated at Stanford Children's Center, Van Bolt sewed hats for the children in her ward as her senior class project.
Science teacher Debbie Mager, who is close to the Van Bolt family and taught Melissa, wanted to carry on Melissa's project. She approached sewing teacher Marsha Hendricks with the idea, and donated the fabric to get the class started.
"I wanted to do something to remember her by," Mager said.
Mager had planned to do the project within her family, enlisting the help of her three daughters, but decided she needed more hands.
Watching Hendricks' students with their heads bent over whirring sewing machines, she seemed pleased with her decision.
Many students had completed their hats and had moved on to sewing buttons, repairing denim skirts or shaving lint off of sweaters while wearing their handmade hats and showing off to each other.
Other students, like sophomore Bobby Mackey, were ripping out stitches and starting over.
Mackey was on his 10th try.
"This one's made with a lot of love," Hendricks joked.
"This is the hardest project we've ever done," said sophomore Kimmy Questo, struggling with her lavender felt.
The pattern from the hat is the same one Van Bolt used for her senior project, and a few kids put their own spin on the design, leaving the brim off for a more mas
culine hat or leaving it inside out to give it texture and originality.
"I hope this helps (the patients) keep their spirits up," said Lissie Urquhart.
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Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties