PHOTO CarolynHolleran 1Carolyn Holleran brought warmth to our House this past blizzard-y season, dropping off 35 hand-knitted hats for the men, women and children who shelter here.

Taught to knit by her grandmother, the local philanthropist has nearly always had needles and a skein handy. She knit socks for boyfriends in the late 1950s, graduating to Christmas stockings for everyone in her family, including her grandchildren. In the last five years, she’s found a renewed interest in knitting because it helps keep the arthritis in her fingers at bay.

Holleran began to make hats as a volunteer at Reading School District; knitting lids for a class of third grade students at 10th and Penn Elementary School. When she stopped volunteering there, she started making hats for non-profit organizations, including Safe Berks, Common Ground, Day Spring, and now Opportunity House. “I have probably given away over 300 hats in the past five years,” she says.

Holleran and her husband, T. Jerome, have also donated millions towards scholarships and served many community organizations, including Safe Berks and the Berks County chapter of the United Way. But according to her, “everyone who gives time, skills, and resources to meet a need is a philanthropist. Knitting helps my arthritic fingers nimble and it is rewarding to me to be able to donate the hats to organizations who get them to folks who really need them. It gives me a happy feeling.”