Local Woman Knits Look-alike Bernie Sanders Mittens to Raise Money for Cincinnati Children’s

A Kindervelt chapter in College Hill auctions off familiar-looking mittens in a creative fund-raising drive.

A stoic man attempts to fend off the January cold, and people just aren’t willing to let the image of him go quite yet. The Inauguration Day photo of Senator Bernie Sanders bundled up and bemittened has become a source of inspiration for many, including Diane Brewster, a College Hill crafter who knitted a doppelganger pair as a quick way to benefit Kindervelt #16, of which she’s a member. Her husband, Bob Brewster, willingly reprised Sanders’s role in a photo to showcase the mittens in their best light.

Bill Brewster models his wife Diane’s craftwork a la Bernie Sanders.

Photograph courtesy of Diane Brewster

On January 31, the mittens were raffled in a drawing at College Hill Coffee Co., raising a cool $501 for Kindervelt, the fund-raising auxiliary organization of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC). Tina Stoeberl, who has owned College Hill Coffee since 2006, promoted the raffle to her devoted clientele via newsletter. She said Jamie Toon bought the winning ticket for her daughter, Erin, who attends the University of Kentucky. “Right now, people need to have fun,” Stoeberl says.

Kindervelt is comprised of 22 neighborhood volunteer groups that work autonomously from each other but with the common goal of supporting CCHMC. The groups have always had a lot of leeway in coming up with their own signature sales and events to raise money, but COVID-19 put even their abundant resourcefulness to the test, says citywide Kindervelt President Katrina Smith. “We’ve really had to think out of the box, but we are making it work. It’s almost more rewarding knowing we’re able to come up with ways to not let COVID win.”

Diane Brewster’s hand-made mittens raised $501 in a Kindervelt auction.

Photograph courtesy of Diane Brewster

Kindervelt is CCHMC’s largest auxiliary, dedicating its fundraising efforts to support one hospital priority need over four-year cycles. Currently, the Division of Critical Care Medicine and its Pediatric Intensive Care Unit is the focus. Keith Henize, CCHMC Director of Auxiliary Relations, says Kindervelt usually raises about $2 million during each four-year commitment, which is “just incredible.” Henize said half of Kindervelt’s gift will be put toward capital, supporting improvements to the new Critical Care Building that will open this fall on the main Children’s campus, and half could be used to create an endowed chair to allow the division to bring on a new physician.

This year’s citywide Let the Good Times Bowl event is on hold because of COVID-19, but planning for Kindervelt’s 50th Jubilee celebration is under way for some time in October.

For Stoeberl, designing a raffle promotion on the fly for neighborhood knitters is part of a savvy localism strategy that’s sustained College Hill Coffee Co. as a hub of neighborhood cultural and civic life. The eclectic business keeps going by selling homemade front-of-the house foods, including its turkey tetrazzini, quiche, vegetarian chili, and baked goods. “We just forge ahead,” Stoeberl says. “Where else can you pick up a loaf of Sixteen Bricks Bread, a latte, valentine gifts, and chances to win hand-knitted Bernie mittens?”

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