Brevard Middle School student Madeline Adrignola surprised her classmates and teachers with handmade Christmas gifts she leaned to make while schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning to crochet has been a family tradition, according to Adrignola, but it took spending long hours at home with little to do to inspire her to master the skill.
“During quarantine, I had nothing to do with my life. So, I just started to learn,” Adrignola said. “I saw a lot of people doing it on the internet, and it looked really interesting and fun to me.”
In the fall, students returned to Brevard Middle on a modified schedule. In August, Adrignola started making hats as Christmas gifts for her friends.
“I wanted to make hats and scarfs for my friends this year for Christmas,” Adrignola said. “Then my friend Karen said, ‘Can you make me a hat.' So, I decided to make everyone in my class a hat.”
Adrignola crocheted 14 winter hats and wrapped each to hand out to her classmates before school adjourned for Christmas break. She said she wanted everybody to receive a gift this year so they would feel appreciated during this stressful school year.
“One of my friends has given my other friends presents, and I never got a present,” Adrignola said. “I decided to make everyone feel equal and never this one feels more appreciated than the other one, because I understand how that feels.”
One size fits all was not how Adrignola approached her generosity. Each hat was custom made.
“My hat was purple, and I liked it a lot,” said Georgia Gerring, one of Adrignola’s classmates. “It made me feel very, like, that I was actually being paid attention to. It made me feel comforted, because it showed that she put care in to it and it was not just something that was actually just thrown together.”
“Oh, it made my day,” said Lola Galloway, another classmate. “It was a gray one with, like, blue. It was gray, and it had, like, blue, like, on the bottom, and she said it brings out my eyes. It made me feel like she actually cared, you know, about everyone in the class.”
“I got a red hat , yeah,” classmate Aaron Cipriano said. “She knew my favorite color was red.”
Adrignola’s homeroom teacher Chelsea Lambert said the day Adrignola surprised her and the class with the gifts is a day she will always remember.
“The joy in that, the happiness on the kids' faces when they were opening the packages and seeing what it was and the time and the effort that she took to put in it, it was a special moment for sure,” Lambert said.
“That day was special,” Cipriano agreed. “It made me feel special that someone made something especially for me and specifically for the other students. It made it feel special.”
“The looks on all the kids faces was like ‘how did you know my favorite color’ and ‘how did you know this would fit my head’,” said Lambert. “And her saying ‘well, I have just been sitting back here watching’.”
“Every time I made a hat, I especially thought of the person to make sure that every time they put on the hat they could feel my love,” Adringnola said. “When I was crocheting, I would just think about them and it was like I could only think about them and only the good things and never the bad things and I was able to direct it into each stich I made.”
Lambert said Adrignola’s act of compassion toward her peers will be a story she will always remember as a teacher.
“It shows a lot about her character and who she is,” Lambert said. “This is something, as adults, we can look at, see what middle schoolers are able to do and that they see the bigger picture. In this profession, you don’t always get to see the fruits of you labor. It’s been a rough year I think for everybody, and so I think it definitely was something that brightened my day and reiterated that I am where I need to be and doing what I need to be doing.”
Adrignola said she just wanted to do something nice.
“I just wanted to make sure everyone, you know, feels at least a little happy during the holidays,” Adrignola said.