“I’ve been involved with so many parents who have lost children,” Penn said. “They just seem to reach out to me and say we love your book and your book has been a comfort.”
The writer hopes the children of Sandy Hook will “get a sense of some kind of security” from the mitten project. “They’ll have a way of keeping in tangible touch with someone at home, someone they feel very secure with.”
Meantime, Piscatelli and dozens of knitters who have contacted her through the project’s Facebook page are pressing on to get the books and mittens in the students’ hands. About 600 kids attended Sandy Hook when Lanza opened fire, but Piscatelli plans to share mittens and books with all the schoolchildren of Newtown.
“The original request was for hand-knit mittens with a heart knit in, embroidered on or sewn on,” she said. “The reality is we have people sewing polar fleece mittens, mittens made from recycled sweaters, store-bought mittens. Every pair of handmade or store-bought mittens will have a heart sewn on if it isn’t there when we receive them.”
Piscatelli has heard from other crafters who plan related Kissing Hand projects, including a group of schoolchildren in Mississippi making pillows.
“Everybody wants to help,” she said. “Everybody’s looking for some way to reach out.”
When a company called Oceanhouse Media learned of Piscatelli’s idea they released a digital version of “The Kissing Hand” early and free of cost in the iTunes app store. Piscatelli has also heard from the loved ones of grown-up volunteers on the ground in Newtown.
“I got a call from a woman who said my father is with the Red Cross,” Piscatelli said. “He’s a psychologist and is there now and I really think he needs a pair of Kissing Hand mittens.”