Jefferson Award winner, December 2016: Nancy Daly

MADISON (WKOW) — Wisconsin winters are cold and not every child has the luxury of a hat to keep them warm.

But, our Jefferson Award winner, Nancy Daly, is working hard to change that.

In the eyes of a child, her gift of warmth is extraordinary.

"It’s a perfect fit," says 4th grader Cole Correia. "I love it!"

A sea of colors and patterns greets kids at the door at Lowell Elementary in Madison.

"It was really hard to choose what to pick because there are so many options," says 4th grader Violet Nettleton.

Nancy and The Hat Ladies, take it from there.

"The children are excited, we’re excited," says Nancy. "It really brings the school together and really unifies the school in a lot of wonderful ways."

"I mean that’s just really cool," says Cole Correia. "Sewing looks really hard, because there’s a big needle involved. You probably could get poked with it, if you aren’t careful. And it could cause an injury, so that’s really impressive."

Nancy and The Hat Ladies make every single child in the school a brand new winter hat.

It’s a mission that started in the 1990’s, when Nancy’s kids were in school and she would sew for their classes.

"I said, ‘Well, heck. I could sew for all the Head Start children in Madison."

And she has ever since, but she also expanded her effort.

Nancy says, "We sew for 15 different Head Start programs every year. We sew for six Madison elementary schools and then we do a number of after school programs, different community centers, shelters."

And she doesn’t charge a penny.

Nancy buys most of the materials herself and also gets donations throughout the year.

"I’ve had random people as far away as Indiana and California just send me boxes of fleece."

She also has an army of about 50 volunteers helping out.

"Over the years, we’ve sewn over 57,000 hats at this point. Ever year, it’s around 7,000 hats each season."

The kids are grateful for the gift.

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