The retiree knits the caps and donates them to charity. He keeps track of how many he has done in a spiral-bound notebook; the running total includes 367 this year.
Burr of Zelienople said a couple of women from his church initially got him into knitting. He makes the caps using a plastic loom called a “Knifty Knitter,” which makes the process simple.
“I call this knitting for dummies because if I can do it anyone can do it,” he said.
After giving away caps to friends and family, Burr wanted to continue knitting, but didn't know what to do with the finished caps. Then he heard about Caps for Kids, a nonprofit organization that collects knit caps and donates them to organizations that distribute them to needy people.
Since 2007, nearly all of Burr's finished caps have been donated to the group or given directly to hospitals for newborns.
Larry Schweinegruber, who lives in the Zelienople area, takes Burr's baby-sized caps and delivers them to five hospitals including Butler Memorial Hospital and Sewickley Valley Hospital.
Burr has four looms of different sizes: the smallest ones makes hats that are given to newborn babies. Babies wear surgical caps for one day after they are born and wear his knitted caps after that, until they outgrow them, he said.
Burr and his wife, Louise, have been married for 55 years and have lived in Zelienople for 10 years. Before retiring, Burr ran a dairy farm in Jackson Township for 30 years and also ran a limousine business.
“I just enjoy helping people. I love the Lord, and I love the Lord's people,” he said.
The Butler County Caps for Kids group was started about 17 years ago and now distributes about 5,000 caps each year in late November and early December, organizer Betty Bauer of Butler said.
Bauer said the group operates with no funding. It relies on about 70 people who buy their own materials and knit the caps and others who help store and distribute them.
“Our slogan is 'caps for kids made with love,' and that is true because there is no reason for these people to make these, but out of love,” Bauer said.
Recipients include food pantries, soup kitchens, Glade Run Lutheran Services and the Bradley Center in Robinson Township, Allegheny County.
Burr has been a huge help to the organization, Bauer said.
To learn about how to donate to Caps for Kids, call Bauer at 724-865-9717. To learn about a knitting group that meets weekly at Park Presbyterian Church, call 724-452-6673.
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