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Canyon Crest freshman uses her creativity to help heads in need

Taylor DeVries is using her creative talents to give warmth to heads in need. She knits and crochets hats and donates them to chemotherapy patients, babies born prematurely, hospitalized children and others in need of head coverings.

She began her project, called Tete-a-Tete (which means head to head in French), in 2009 but didn’t start tracking the number of hats she has donated until 2010. By her official tally on her website, tete-a-tete-hats.blogspot.com, she’s given out 162 hats.

Her head-toppers have been donated to 13 medical facilities, including Dr. Sabrina Wallach’s office, Scripps Polster Breast Center in La Jolla, San Diego Cancer Center in Encinitas and the Ronald McDonald House.

Taylor’s hats have also been sent out of state, to the St. Jude’s Research Center in Memphis and to individual customers who have requested hats online in Colorado and Ohio.

“I am very proud of her,” said mom Shelley Gerber, who taught Taylor how to knit when she was in third grade.

Taylor, a freshman at Canyon Crest Academy who turns 15 on Saturday, was inspired to start Tete-a-Tete Hats while accompanying her mother to doctors’ appointments at Dr. Sabrina Wallach’s office in La Jolla.

While her mother was there to get infusions for her an iron deficiency, many patients were there receiving chemotherapy.

Gerber said that her daughter has a unique sensitivity to others who are dealing with difficult situations. Taylor was born with life-threatening food allergies and Gerber said Taylor understands what it is like to feel a little bit different.

Taylor felt bad that some of the women did not have attractive head coverings. “I thought it would be nice to make some hats,” she said.

Taylor has always liked to “keep her hands busy,” so she often knits while she watches TV or sometimes even when she’s reading for school, holding the book open with her foot.

Crocheting is easier, it only takes a couple hours to make a hat — she finished one last weekend while watching a movie.

Knitting takes a little longer and doesn’t leave as many holes as the crochet hats.

She makes them in all different colors—some with flowers, some with bows, some with fuzzy yarn, some in a beret style.

Guyanne Shood, a nurse practitioner at Dr. Wallach’s office, said Taylor provides a nice variety of hats so that everyone is able to pick something that fits their individual personalities and styles.

“I think it’s tremendous,” Shood said. “She really has done a very nice job of brightening people’s days and providing a lot of joy for many women who are very stressed.”

Shood said that losing your hair and going bald is a very, very difficult physical change that comes along with chemotherapy and patients are always looking for ways to cover their heads.

She said patients say wigs can be very hot and uncomfortable — the knit hats are feminine, light, comfortable and something they can wear around the house, on simple trips or to and from their chemo appointments.

Shood said she thinks what Taylor has done is a wonderful service and especially likes that she has built a Web site devoted to her cause. People can order hats for free through the Web site and it also serves as a way for recipients to send little thank you notes.

“Thank you so much for this cozy hat to cover my funny-looking head of hairlessness,” wrote a woman named Paula.

“I’m going through chemo and have lost my hair, eyelashes and brows. I look like a smiley face,” wrote Mary Ann, who added that Taylor’s hat was her favorite color and very soft.

A man named Crys sent in a photo of his wife, Ronise, wearing one of Taylor’s purple hats.

“Your hats keep her head warm and pretty daily,” he wrote.

Taylor said she loves getting the feedback from people she has helped.

“I really like how it feels,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s work has inspired people to donate yarn or hats they have made themselves. For those interested, any soft yarn will work. Cotton works well or, one of Taylor’s favorites, bamboo, which feels soft like chenille. One yarn to avoid is wool as it is too scratchy on heads.

For more information, visit Taylor’s blog at

tete-a-tete-hats.blogspot.com

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