A very busy teenager in Leesburg made looming warm hats for the homeless a personal mission.
In conversation, Alexis Grandis, an eighth-grade student at Belmont Ridge Middle School, could almost pass for twice her age. She has an irrepressible artistic bent, a ready smile, and keeps herself busier than most adults.
In addition to her school work, she tutors fellow students when they have difficulty with English and volunteers at the library. She is in two select choirs at school, plays four instruments, and will be performing as the eel Flotsam in her school’s production of The Little Mermaid. When she gets home, her mother says she takes over the dining room to piece together jigsaw puzzles.
Even that’s not enough for Alexis. Other volunteer efforts have been stymied because she is required to bring a parent because of her age, and she said she might have started tutoring earlier if she could.
So even when she was laid up at home for two days with an illness and binging on Doctor Who, she couldn’t stay still.
“I felt lazy not doing anything,” Alexis said. “So I had like this kit that I bought from Michaels, and I just decided to pick it up and try knitting.”
She has now worn out one loom and a second loom is held together with glue.
“I made a few, and one of my relatives was saying, oh, you have those hats, are you going to sell them?” she said. “And I said, no, I think I might donate them, just because I’ve always wanted to do something to help out, and this is just a way to do that.”
Relatives got hats and socks for Christmas this year, and Loudoun charity Mobile Hope got something, too—75 warm, knitted hats, donated the week of Christmas.
“We just kind of looked for local charities, and that was the one that made the most sense,” Alexis said.
Alexis and her father Chris Grandis put together a press release and came up with a name for her work: “Hopeful Hats.”
“We’re thankful that she found something like this that she could contribute to,” said Chris.
Alexis takes about an hour to knit a hat, and they come in a variety of sizes and patterns. Some are one or two colors; some are a “Frankenstein monster” of colorful scraps of yarn. Some have pom-poms, some don’t. Some are even child-sized.
“It’s become a hobby,” she said. “I don’t even have to look at what I’m doing anymore.”
“She’ll be watching TV, and she’ll just be going at it,” Chris said.
In between all the rehearsals and tutoring and school work, Alexis plans to keep volunteering, finding ways to help people less fortunate than she.
“I’ll just see what comes my way,” she said, “and I’ll take the chance while I have it.”