Firefly Berries is about more than growing great fruit. It is about creating and supporting community. With this passion in mind, we donate regularly to Channel One Food Bank in SE MN, operate our Wooden Nickel Program, and in April 2013 we began Firefly Hats for Hope Initiative-MN, a spinoff of Emily’s Hats for Hope Initiative stationed in New Jersey.

Emily’s Hats for Hope Initiative began in December of 2011 when Emily (then 17 years old) began knitting hats for the homeless and working poor in her area. As of December 2017, she had made, collected and donated nearly 30,000 winter hats, scarves, mittens and other winter outerwear to soup kitchens, food pantries, and impoverished communities throughout the United States and Guatamala.

In January 2018 Emily left the States to begin a new adventure living and studying abroad in Europe. Because of this, the national organization is no longer in existence, however, here at Firefly Berries we continue to keep the spirit of Emily’s mission alive in our Spinoff Chapter: Firefly Hats for Hope Initiative-MN.

Through Emily’s inspiration we are able to bless communities with hats, scarves, socks, and other winter outerwear. As of March 2019 we have collected and donated over 1100 items to those in need. Won’t you consider joining us in this outreach opportunity? We are always collecting any and all winter items (whether handmade or store bought). Our biggest need in Olmsted County tends to be mittens for all ages.

At the moment we are accepting winter items of any kind, but are focusing on the following ongoing projects. To donate items, please drop off or mail them to Firefly Berries – 5542 23rd St NE – Rochester, MN 55906.

Please check out the links on each of the organizations we are focusing on to learn more about what they do and how you can help!

BUNDLES OF LOVE: This is a wonderful nonprofit organization that assists Minnesota families in need by providing handmade baby clothing, bedding, and basic care items for their newborns. We accept any newborn or 0-3 month size hats, socks or booties.

CLICK FOR BABIES CAMPAIGN: April begins the new yearly campaign to collect newborn size purple baby hats. This year we are working with the Rochester chapter of Bundles of Love to donate these hats to families right here in Olmsted County. The hats will be a part of the Click for Babies Campaign efforts to educate new parents about Shaken Baby Syndrome and the period of time in a newborn’s life when they tend to cry more, “the period of purple crying.” Each letter of purple stands for something that will help the parents remember it is okay, and the period will pass naturally.

PINE RIDGE RESERVATION: Poverty on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota is extensive. The Lakota people need everything and anything that can help them stay warm (hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, sweaters, socks, etc). Each fall we send a large box of items to the reservation to help with these needs. A few special things to note if you are making items for this project:

**No solid red or blue as that signifies gang membership

**No owls or owl motifs as the owl signifies death

**If you use different fibers in the same project, please make sure they are all able to be laundered the same way, and make note of that on a small tag.

**Feel free to use 100% wool, as the people receiving them are used to caring for handwash items. Just be sure to note the fiber content on a small tag, along with any special care instructions.

NEED ONE…TAKE ONEThroughout the year the Rochester Public Library welcomes many people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, a good number of these folks do not have adequate warm winter outerwear. Because of this, the staff in the children’s department has made it their mission to collect and distribute winter hats, mittens, cowls, and scarves to share with those in need. All sizes from infant to adult are needed, and any type of yarn can be used. However, if there are special care instructions, please be sure to attach those to your finished items.

HATS AND MORE FOR WAR TORN SYRIA – This organization works to help people of all ages (infant to adult) who have been displaced by the war in Syria and the region. Their main objective is to provide sweaters, socks, blankets, quilts, vests, mittens and of course, hats for those in need. Wool is best for the items we send to this organization, as it can hold body heat, even when wet, and isn’t so flammable for those cooking over open flames. Volunteers from Hats and More for War-torn Syria travel to the country to personally deliver the items to those in need.

You can follow our happenings online at our Firefly Hats for Hope Initiative-MN Facebook page!