Dane Co. non-profit gives wool sweaters a second life, donates funds to food pantries

The mittens are then sold at about 30 Dane County businesses, including St. Vincent de Paul stores, Barriques Coffee Roasters and Cafes, Brennan’s Market, and M
Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 5:58 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Old wool sweaters are getting a second life thanks to a group of local volunteers who turn them into mittens, benefiting food pantries in Dane County.

The non-profit “ReMitts” sells the handmade wool mittens at a number of businesses across Dane Co. and they’re only available in November and December.

For $40 a pair, the proceeds go directly to three local food pantries: St. Vincent De Paul, WayForward Resources and The River Food Pantry.

After starting in 2009, Founder Janet Tupy never thought the organization would grow to be this big.

“No one’s more astonished than I am at how well this has gone over and how much good it’s done for our community,” Tupy said. “I think it’s great.”

In the first year, Tupy and about four friends had a goal to raise $1,000. They ended up selling out of mittens and making $4,000. Since 2009, ReMitts has raised $750,000 for local food pantries in Dane County.

“Feeding the hungry is going to be with us, unfortunately, throughout all of our lives and it’s something that everybody can get around. It’s not divisive. It brings everybody together and the Madison community has just been fabulous getting behind this,” Tupy said.

The need for food in our communities continues to grow, Communications Manager for WayForward Resources, Jenny Price, said.

“Since January 2022, the monthly visits for our pantry are up more than 200 percent and that means we’re distributing the equivalent of about 125,000 meals per month from our pantry,” Price said.

ReMitts is entirely volunteer-run.

“We figure each pair takes about three hours to make so there is an investment of time and, of course, it’s all volunteer time. But we know that 100 percent of our effort is going to go toward the food pantry and that makes it worth it,” lead volunteer of ReMitts, Ann Nelson, said.

The mittens make a great holiday gift for friends and family, but you’re also giving back to your community.

“We like to say that you make a $40 contribution to the food pantry and you happen to get a pair of great mittens,” Nelson said.

ReMitts is also asking if you have any 100% wool sweaters sitting in your closet, to donate them to be turned into mittens!

Sweaters must be 100% wool and can be dropped off at the ReMitts workshop at Grace Lutheran Church (1 S. Rosa Rd.) in Madison on Tuesdays from 9 am until 2 pm. They can also be dropped off at WayForward Resources and The River Food Pantry.

The unique mittens are only sold in November and December. A full list of locations selling them can be found here.

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