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Homeless Bisel

Morgan Bisel shows the hand-knit scarf donated by her grandmother in the “Morgan Bisel’s Helping Hands” collection bin at Big Creek Coffee Roasters. The public can donate items of warmth for the homeless at collection bins around Hamilton until Dec. 19.

Gathering articles of warmth for homeless folks was a good idea that grew bigger for a Hamilton Middle School student.

Morgan Bisel, 11, is collecting hats, scarves, gloves and blankets for homeless people.

First she started small.

“I decided I would knit a couple hats and scarves for homeless people,” Bisel said. “Then it grew to ‘maybe I could ask my friends to help?’ then to ‘maybe I could get the sixth-grade to donate?’ then it was the whole school.”

Then businesses throughout the town decided they would help the enthusiastic and altruistic young lady.

“I did this because I wanted to make a difference for people’s lives because I feel like some people don’t really care and I don’t want to be those people,” Bisel said.

This articulate youngster is able to communicate her goals and get everyone excited to participate.

At HMS Principal Marlin Lewis agreed to take a pie in the face for the project — if over 100 items are donated at the school.

“I talked to Mr. Lewis and he said for each item people donate they get a raffle ticket,” Bisel said. “They write their name on it and at the end of the collection time, Dec. 19, we’ll have an assembly and I’ll draw five winning tickets. One person will get to pie Mr. Lewis, one person will get to pie me and three people will get a Pharaohplex movie pass, Pizza Hut pizza and bread sticks.”

After firing up the school, Bisel set off around town to see who else would like to join the gathering of warm articles project.

Mass Home Center stepped up and donated the large collection bins which she decorated and added red poster board with hand-lettered and drawn signs: “Morgan Bisel’s Helping Hands.”

She placed the bins in sponsoring businesses: Pizza Hut, Super One Foods, Massa, Big Creek Coffee and Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat for Humanity said that any person who donates will get 20 percent off their purchase at the Habitat Store,” Bisel said. “My grandma, Nancy Turigliatto, donated the first scarf. It is red and warm and in the Big Creek bin.”

Bisel said she is personally “loom knitting” five scarves to donate. She is making them in the SPECTRA, gifted and talented independent study class at school.

Gifted Specialist Arielle Rhodz said Bisel’s self-designed project of personal interest shows her heart.

“Morgan's project has grown from an individual knitting project into a whole school challenge and now a community drive,” Rhodz said. “This enlargement is based on her desire to make a meaningful impact in the world.”

Wednesday was the first day of operation for the donation bin at HMS and Bisel received a donation of one hat.

On Thursday she received a donation of 27 hats, a baby blanket, a new blanket and a pair of gloves and is over a quarter of the way to her goal of 100 items donated at HMS — watch out Mr. Lewis.

Bisel hasn’t checked the bins around Hamilton.

“I am taking items that are new or just gently used because I don’t want homeless people to receive crummy stuff,” she said. “I don’t want items with holes in them because I think they deserve better.”

As to where the gathered items should go, Bisel researched nearby homeless shelters, checked their ratings and decided on the Union Gospel Mission in Missoula.

There is a limited time to donate to “Morgan Bisel’s Helping Hands” warmth collection project as it ends Dec. 19 when she gathers the items from bins. The school assembly for pie in the face will be before Christmas break and she will deliver the items to bring warmth to homeless in Missoula on Dec. 22.

Bisel said she is grateful to all the support she has received and said if it goes well this year she would do it again next year.

“Thanks to Mr. Lewis for being willing to take a pie in the face, all the businesses who are hosting collection bins, my friends, my parents and everyone who donates,” Bisel said. “Together we are making a difference.”