The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh kicked off its 13th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive today, hoping to “warm up the winter for a family in need.” The iconic Fred Rogers began each television show by putting on a pair of sneakers and a cardigan sweater. One of his sweaters is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.
Marketing Director Bill Schlageter said the Children's Museum is proud of how many people have participated through the years.
“It’s an activity that we’ve seen resonate with individuals and groups of all ages, from 6th graders in the North Hills to folks staying in nursing home facilities in the South Hills,” he said.
For this year, the museum is donating the sweaters to the United Way of Allegheny County and to the Tri-State Presbyterian Church USA Missions, and possibly a third partner as well.
“This year, we’re making inquiry in the New York/New Jersey area on the chance that if there is a need, and I emphasize if there is a need, we are going to be happy to be able to share our sweaters with those folks as well,” he said.
More than 28,000 sweaters have been collected since the Neighborhood Sweater Drive began, and have been given to families in need throughout southwestern Pennsylvania.
The final new Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes began running in August 2001, but PBS offers one rebroadcast per week. Fred Rogers died in 2003. Schlageter felt the message of the sweater drive is more than just a tribute to the show.
“As he always wore a sweater knitted for him by his mom on his program, we do take that as a theme,” he said. “But the notion of sharing warmth with your neighbors through a sweater, I think, is timeless.”
The public can drop off new and/or slightly used sweaters in the museum’s lobby. Sweaters will be collected through December 16.