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Mad Hatters

09/30/2008 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

In the spring of 2002, Leal Thompson formed a crafting group made up of local senior women. The first month the group learned to make a baby cap. Adorable and easy to make, Thompson hatched a crafty idea to knit a cap for every newborn at Mercy Hospital in Folsom. Although the challenge seemed too ambitious for a group of six women to undertake, they kept their knits about them and pursued the challenge.

Today, the former crafting group is known as the Mad Hatters — an El Dorado Hills based non-profit organization with 600 members who provide knitwear (caps, slippers, blankets, scarves, lap robes) for newborns, chemotherapy patients, veterans and seniors. They also donate knitted handicraft to several area hospitals and medical centers, schools, and organizations like Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

“Mad Hatters cares about the community,” says Founder Leal Thompson, an El Dorado Hills resident for 21 years, happily married mother of three and grandmother of four. “Our mission is for every baby born at the hospitals we donate to, to have a Kiddie Kap made by Mad Hatters. We do this by donating our time and talents.” The time commitment of this charitable obligation is extensive, but for members of Mad Hatters, a priceless opportunity that benefits countless individuals in need.

Thus far, Mad Hatters has donated 62,000 baby caps to local hospitals alone. In addition to their efforts within the medical sector, members teach school children, Girl Scouts, and teens how to knit and crochet at local libraries; they also provide lessons to community seniors. For their tireless efforts on behalf of so many, state Senator Dave Cox bestowed Mad Hatters with a resolution for Outstanding Volunteerism — an honor awarded at the State Capitol in August of 2002.
Thompson, whose little crafting-group-that-could has spawned 27 affiliated Mad Hatters groups throughout California and as far away as Wisconsin, is most proud of the joy that the group has for providing knitwear to the community. She also mentions the warm friendships that have formed among group members, and is quick to credit the ladies who make possible this “very rewarding project.”

Mad Hatters can rightly be considered a social organization as much a service one, as its members have a strong communal connection, which they also share with the local communities and residents they serve. “[The work we do] fulfills many needs,” Thompson explains. “It is rewarding and makes us feel useful and creative.”

Mad Hatters accepts no dues and has one rule: no hats are ever sold for profit, they’re always gifted. And the group has no officers, just workers. “We have made our community a better place to live by helping people give to others,” Thompson says.

For more information, or to learn how to get involved with Mad Hatters, please email Leal Thompson at <a target="_blank" href="mailto:leal_thompson@yahoo.com">leal_thompson@yahoo.com</a>.

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