It was 80 degrees outside Tuesday afternoon, but inside Collins Elementary, more than 100 first-graders were bundled up in matching hats and scarves.
The articles of knitwear were gifts from a group of women from the Augusta area who worked on the project since April as a way to serve the community while spending time together.
“It was a blessing for all of us,” said Susan Gopal, who organized the group earlier this year, inspired by a CBS television special.
“We have gotten more fun out of it than they have,” said Kamla Shah, another of the knitters, as she watched the swarms of children try on their hats and shout out thank-yous.
The majority of Collins pupils live within 1.5 miles of the school, said first-grade teacher Chandria Tenpenny. In the cold months, the hats and scarves will come in handy.
“It’s a surprise and such a gift,” she said. “Most of them walk to school, so it will keep them warm.”
Tashayla Doyle, 6, said she wants to wear her scarf and hat every day.
“It looks so beautiful,” said Tashayla, one of Tenpenny’s pupils.
William Matthews, also 6, said he will save his for special occasions.
“I want to keep mine clean and nice,” he said.
Willie Wiley, an assistant principal, said the women’s generosity was something he hoped the entire school could learn from.
“They really did knit for love,” he said. “I’m just thrilled that they chose us, and their giving has meaning for all of us – me, too.”
As the women walked out of the school Tuesday afternoon, they were already talking about their next project.
“They told me, ‘We need to get wool from you before we go,’ ” Gopal said with a smile. “On to the next thing.”