The meaning behind the colorful mittens for sale in 30+ Madison-area businesses

MADISON, Wis.– After Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday: the newest, and perhaps, the most important post-Thanksgiving ‘holiday.’ But the 25 volunteers who meet every week in the basement of Madison’s Grace Lutheran Church don’t need a date on the calendar as a reminder to make a difference.

Ann Nelson is one of the masterminds or rather, the “hands behind” ReMitts, hand-sewn mittens now for sale at more than 30 businesses across Madison.

“We’re taking something that would probably end up in a landfill and making something beautiful and useful out of it,” Nelson said.

ReMitts are incredibly cozy mittens, made from old, donated wool sweaters. No two pairs are alike, and every pair is washed and shrunk before sewed, lined with fleece, and hand-finished with buttons.

“We estimate it takes between three and four hours to make each pair,” said Nelson. “There’s a whole process of washing, drying, cutting, sewing, and then hand-sewing at the end.”

Once complete, the mittens are delivered to small businesses across Madison and sold for $35 per pair.

“We’ve made $39,000 so far this year,” Nelson said proudly, “but we’d love to sell another $100,000.”

All of that money is donated to three local food pantries: St. Vincent de Paul, the Middleton Outreach Ministry, and The River, where the number of people in need of help is still triple pre-pandemic.

“We like to think that we’re helping in some way,” said Nelson.

Nelson and her volunteers work year-round to replenish their mitten supply, but the winter accessories themselves are only on sale in November and December. They come in a variety of sizes for both men and women.

Click here for a map of where ReMitts are sold in & around Madison.

The idea for ReMitts originated 12 years ago when founder Janet Tupy decided to do as much good as she could with $100. She thrifted a few old sweaters, bought sewing materials, and they say: The rest is history!

READ MORE: Retired nurse makes & sells mittens, raising $500,000 for local food pantries