CCS program adds mittens to its menu

Mittens will be made from old wool sweaters.

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 13, 2013 at 4:56 p.m.

ELKHART — Soup of Success has built a reputation for helping area women learn valuable life skills while producing soups, dips and greeting cards, but this year the program is adding another non-edible item to the assembly line.

In the coming months, Soup of Success — a program of Church Community Services — will begin producing warm wool mittens, Director Betsy Ayrea said.

The mittens, made from old wool sweaters and lined with fleece, will be available this fall for $30 per pair.

Mechiel Dues, a recent graduate of the Soup of Success program, has been hired to run the new program.

“Graduating was a bittersweet moment,” Dues said. “I’d said that if I could go through the program all over again I would, and here I am, still here.”

“In class she did so well with the volunteers and was so good with quality control on the food lines,” Ayrea said of Dues. “She had great attention to detail and was always taking initiative.”

Carla Chester, a longtime Soup of Success volunteer, donated her mitten business, The Mitten Company, to the charity earlier this year after making mittens for four years.

Chester donated her supplies and trained Ayrea and Dues to make the mittens.

Ayrea is asking for the community’s help to get the project off the ground. She is looking for wool sweaters, vintage buttons and gift cards to Hobby Lobby, where she buys the fleece used to line the mittens.

“We can get two to three pair (of mittens) depending on the sweater,” Ayrea said. “We wash and shrink them down, but they need to have a high, high percentage of wool for it to work.”

Any garments donated to the project that cannot be used for the mittens will be donated to a local clothing pantry, Ayrea said.

Donations can be dropped off at the Soup of Success building at 907 Oakland Avenue in Elkhart.

Chester sold her mittens at the Goshen Farmers Market, local craft bazaars and several shops in Indianapolis, Ayrea said. Soup of Success will continue to provide mittens for the Indianapolis stores and may rent a booth at the farmers market.

For more information on the Soup of Success mittens project, check out the program’s blog.

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