Hats off for girl’s drive to aid sick children
Fifthgrader Rachel Kahn in October initiated a Mad Hatter campaign to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — and she doesn’t want to put a lid on it now.
The drive to get new hats for children who have lost their hair from cancer treatment will continue Saturday during the Sinterklaas celebration in the village. Kahn will have a box set up in front of Rhinebeck Bank on Montgomery Street/U.S. Route 9 as part of a cupcake sale she is conducting to raise funds.
“Rachel and I use to do an after-school class a few years ago and did a Mad Hatter tea party and we did hats,” said Rosie Kahn, Rachel’s mother.
“There was a little girl in her grade last year that was undergoing chemotherapy and the girl was completely bald and ... for Rachel that really made an impression on her,” she said. “She had wanted to do this last year but, ... I kind of shied away from it because I thought she was too young to talk about it. This year when she wanted to do it, we did it and with an online website through St. Jude’s. She’s raised over $1,000 through that.”
The drive for head covering began on Oct. 6 in recognition of the numbers on the hat of the Mad Hatter character in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which was published in 1865.
“She made a box and put it as (Chancellor Livingston Elementary School) with a sign ... and collected 45 to 50 hats,” Rosie Kahn said.
“They were all kinds of different knit hats,” she said. “Some of the teachers actually made them and they’re beautiful. She had a whole assortment for both boys and girls.”
Rachel Kahn said she was inspired by the need for
children to stay warm during and immediately following treatments.
“It (was) getting close to the winter, so I thought that it would be nice to do a little something special for their heads because it gets cold during the winter,” Rachel said. “I thought it would be something fun to do and helpful.”
The drive accepts only new and unused hats that will be sealed in individual zip lock bags before being sent to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is in Memphis, Tenn.
In a letter to classmates, Rachel explained that the hospital provides free care for children.
“St. Jude is a special place for kids that are very sick with different types of cancers and lots of other very serious illnesses,” she said. “St. Jude is special because they do special things for kids and families that other hospitals can’t, like doing research and inventing treatments for cancers for kids, giving families a place to stay when their child is in the hospital and giving all medical treatments to kids free.”
She added that she was also impressed with how much the hospital tries to put patients as ease during treatment.
“St. Jude gives families a place to stay when their child is getting treated,” she said. “They also give families meals. They give car and bus rides when kids need treatment. If you live far away, they can help pay for your airplane ticket.”
Rachel Kahn wears a hat promoting her efforts to get hats for patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.