Mittens for Millions co-founder is renewed in his efforts to help

Jeff Dyke, co-founder of Mittens for Millions, ties cold-weather apparel that is free for anyone to take to a tree outside the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library on Monday, Dec. 11. Mittens for Millions is a nonprofit group that collects cold-weather apparel and distributes it to those in need in and around Huntington County.
Jeff Dyke, co-founder of Mittens for Millions, ties cold-weather apparel that is free for anyone to take to a tree outside the Huntington Branch of the Huntington City-Township Public Library on Monday, Dec. 11. Mittens for Millions is a nonprofit group that collects cold-weather apparel and distributes it to those in need in and around Huntington County. Photo by Steve Clark.

Originally published Dec. 18, 2017.

Ten years ago, Jeff and Chrisse Dyke started Mittens for Millions, a nonprofit initiative that sees them collect cold-weather apparel and distribute it to those in need.

However, after a few years of gathering and dispensing stacks of new and gently used mittens, gloves, hats, scarves and coats, Jeff Dyke started to feel himself getting a little burned out.

“Honestly, about four or five years ago, I questioned what I was doing here,” he admits.

But that’s when his wife told him something that he hasn’t forgotten.

“My wife taught me a great saying, ‘It’s for the greater of the good,’” recalls Dyke. “And I honestly believe that now it’s in my heart.”

December is Mittens for Millions’ biggest month. From receiving a high volume of donations, to processing them, to then sending them back out into the community, the Dykes are kept plenty busy.

While the Dykes’ home at 258 S. Main St. in Andrews is the main drop-off point for donations to Mittens for Millions, there are a variety of satellite drop-off spots. In Huntington, those locations are Wings Etc. and 20 West Salon and Spa. Locations outside Huntington County include Harley-Davidson of Fort Wayne and American Water, in Wabash.

On a recent weekend, Dyke notes that his living room was brimming with donations. He and his wife proceeded to separate the items by both type and size.

“It does take time,” says Dyke. “But it’s not labor. It’s a labor of love … it’s a great feeling.”

When the sorting concludes, the distributing begins. The Dykes deliver items to various locations in Huntington, such as the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department and the New Life Community Meal Ministry, at 323 N. Jefferson St.

“That’s one of our biggest receivers,” says Dyke of the Meal Ministry. “I just go down there, literally, and dump them out on the table out there and it’s a free-for-all. I try to do that at night, right when they’re opening up, that way I get the most people being able to receive from this.”

The Dykes also venture up to Fort Wayne to distribute clothing.

Dyke is grateful for the people who have donated items to Mittens for Millions or made the nonprofit the focus of a service project.

Last year, notes Dyke, his daughter’s Girl Scout troop decided to make gloves for Mittens for Millions. When the scouts were finished, they had crafted 300 pairs.

For more information about Mittens for Millions, visit the group’s Facebook page. Dyke encourages people to post notes on the page, informing he and his wife of people or places that would benefit from having clothing dropped off.

Ultimately, people’s reactions to getting the clothing is one of the main reasons Dyke and his wife have kept Mittens for Millions going for so long.

“We feel the community can use this,” says Dyke. “And it’s the least that we can do to help somebody that’s less fortunate than us.”