- The Washington Times - Monday, December 28, 2009

FROSTBURG, Md. (AP) | Sherry Trabing arrived with her 111 handmade scarves for the Caring Tree at Frost Elementary School.

The tree was already covered with winter hats and gloves. The school’s annual Caring Tree project provides winter clothing for the needy at Christmastime.

“I started early this year,” said Miss Trabing, of Cumberland. Vivid colors spilled from the boxes: pink, yellow, purple, green … peach, gray, turquoise, royal blue.

She first crocheted scarves for the school project three years ago.

Her inspiration was third-grader Lane Sites.

“I used to baby-sit for him on Friday nights,” said Miss Trabing, who is close friends with Lane’s mother, Arlean Huff. “He saw me crocheting while I watched him, so he asked me to do it.”

The first year, Miss Trabing made a few dozen scarves. Last year, she made 36. This year, Lane challenged her to produce 50.

“When I got those done, he said 100,” said Miss Trabing, who had asked three friends from work to help. Lane, who was in kindergarten when he first told Miss Trabing about the Caring Tree, was proud of her achievement this year. “That’s pretty good,” Lane said, and placed some scarves on the tree in the cafeteria.

Judy Hall, library and media specialist, said Frost Elementary started the winter clothing collection as part of its character education curriculum. December’s character trait is caring.

“We send a note home asking children to ask their families if they can bring in hats and scarves,” said Miss Hall, adding that the collection goes to the Frostburg Pantry, which distributes them.

“In this economy, it’s very helpful, we hope,” she said. “Some families might rather spend an extra $10 on a jacket than buy a scarf or mittens.”

Most of the merchandise hanging on the Caring Tree was store-bought, with price tags still attached. Trabing’s hand-crocheted scarves are “absolutely gorgeous,” Miss Hall said.

Miss Trabing has been crocheting for more than 20 years, She can produce about four scarves a day - “on a good day,” she said.

“I’m pretty fast at it,” said Miss Trabing, who, between work and spending time with her 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter, crochets as much as 30 hours a week. She recently learned how to crochet hats.

“I just love to do it,” Miss Trabing said, adding that next year she plans to make some hats for Frost’s Caring Tree. “It’s very relaxing. Keeps me sane.”

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