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Meet Moira (Muffin) Pellegrino of Ellie’s Hats in Boxford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Moira (Muffin) Pellegrino.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Moira (Muffin). So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Ellie’s Hats is a 501(c)3 organization. It was founded in 2014 by my brother, Jay. He is an elementary school teacher and a little kindergartener, named Ellie, wore fun hats to school each day because she was bald from her chemo treatments for leukemia. At Christmas that year Jay asked some friends to add some hats to Ellie’s collection. He ended up with over 120 hats — too many for just Ellie! He took the extra hats to the local clinic’s holiday party and the kids loved choosing their own special hat. Ellie’s Hats was born! Ellie’s Hats now send special packages to children battling cancer all across the country. Over 850 individual packages to date! While Jay runs the business end of Ellie’s Hats, I send the package to the children.

Here in New England, we supply fun hats for the oncology patients at Boston Children’s Hospital, The Jimmy Fund Clinic, The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, Maine Children’s Cancer Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Baystate Medical Center. We have a special program at Tufts providing Hero Bags to newly diagnosed families. These bags include toiletries and other items needed when being admitted (usually directly from the ER) to begin a battle with childhood cancer.

Ellie’s Hats has been able to help children with cancer and their families with more than just hats. We have helped patients meet their sports idol, have princess’ attend their birthday parties, attend concerts and sporting events and more. We help in any way we can. I have learned that children fighting cancer continue to play and be joyful through their fight. The rewards have been far greater than what has been given.

*footnote* Ellie is now finished with her treatment, in 4th grade, with long red hair and is doing great!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This mission has been a mostly smooth progression. Ellie’s Hats went from donating just over a hundred hats, to donating over tens of thousands of hats in just a few years. We are thankful for those who want to help these children. Over 95% of our hats are given to us from those holding hat drives at schools, businesses, sports teams, scouting troops and more.

As our contacts and networking increase, we are able to help more and more children fighting cancer. 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every day. We would like to bring smiles to as many of these children as possible, In order to do this, we will need to establish a solid volunteer base. Setting this up is a goal and will be a learning experience for us.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ellie’s Hats – what should we know?
Ellie’s Hats bring smiles to children battling cancer AND their siblings by sending them customized packages. We do our best to choose the perfect character, team, color or style of hats requested. We are proud to say we include the siblings, as their lives are disrupted by this battle too! Ellie’s Hats follows and supports most of the children over the course of their treatment and beyond through social media. We often send follow up packages as a surprise. Children who received winter hats initially may receive a package later with summer hats.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The children fighting cancer and their families deserve ALL of the credit. The feedback we receive from the parents with the nice notes of thanks for bringing a smile to their child and the photos of those smiling children motivates us to do more!

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Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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