WINFIELD, W.Va. -- When Hannah Williams created the "Hats of Hope" knitting club at Winfield High School two years ago, she had no idea the impact it would have on its participants.
After Williams taught Kayleigh Kleppinger, 17, to knit, she decided to make a hat for a young family friend.
"He's 2 this year, and I didn't know, but he doesn't let anything touch his head, not even if it's raining," Kleppinger recalled. "I knitted him an orange hat and when I gave it to him, his mom said, 'Oh, thank you, but he won't wear it.'
"He put it on immediately and now they'll tell me, 'Logan had to wear his hat to eat breakfast,'" she said with a laugh.
Amanda Schwartz, 18, who is Williams' cousin and also helped start the club, remembers when the group made hats for a school project around the Christmas holiday to help underprivileged kids in McDowell County.
"I have pictures of one girl when she received her hat," Schwartz said, smiling. "She put it on right away and just beamed."
Since it began, "Hats of Hope," a group of about 20 Winfield students, has knitted more than 200 hats for various organizations. The group has sent hats overseas with churches on mission trips, delivered them to men's shelters, donated them to struggling mothers to keep their babies warm and to cancer patients, some of whom lose their hair during treatments.
Many in the club didn't know how to knit before joining, so Williams and Schwartz taught them.
"It's easy," Williams said, holding a circular yellow loom. "You just wrap the yarn around the pegs and go around twice. ... It pretty much makes itself, so we'll usually just do it while we watch TV and chill out."
The looms come in different sizes. Larger ones are used to make men's hats, some are medium sized and tiny ones are used to create hats that fit a baby.
"When we make hats for cancer patients, we try to buy softer yarn," Williams said.