GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) - Friends and co-workers of Jennifer Longworth's are making sure a tradition she started won't end with her death.
A second grade teacher at Southwest Elementary in Greenwood, Jennifer Longworth knitted hats and scarves for her students every year for Christmas.
When teachers gathered to start to cope with her death and the death of her husband Dion in the south side explosion, they thought of her knitting project.
"She was a very organized person, so we knew probably by fall break or before, she would be completely finished with her project," said Cathy Strange, a teacher's assistant in the first grade at Southwest Elementary. "We thought ‘Oh man, we've gotta finish what she started. We've gotta do this for her.'"
Longworth had 21 students in her classroom this year.
Fellow teachers started knitting almost immediately, and others that didn't even know how to knit joined in as well.
"We got together, and we thought it would be just this school, then all of a sudden it was the high school, the elementary school, the bus drivers," said Strange.
Their efforts grew exponentially.
Yarn and needles were donated, and they say others donated hats and scarves.
So far, they have more than 50. The extras will go to the Cheer Guild at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
"To see them come together, to see them smiling, to see them thinking about the memories they have — it's uplifting to see," said Beth Guilfoy, principal of Southwest Elementary.
"It's been overwhelming and touching and emotional to see just how many people are out there, thinking about us, lifting us up, and it really makes you grateful we live in a great town," she added.
"When Mrs. Longworth died … it devastated all of us," said Strange. "With us doing this, the kids know how important she is to all of us, and how important it is to continue her legacy."
They say they're going to continue this tradition every year.
Teachers and friends have a week to finish all the hats and scarves. Then they'll get together and wrap them as gifts for Longworth's students, just as she had.
The school is also continuing an annual Ornament Contest in the name of Jennifer Longworth.
Students vote on ornaments created by teachers by placing money in jars.
All the proceeds this year are going to a memorial fund for the Longworths. That fund will help a graduating senior each year who had Mrs. Longworth as a teacher. In later years it will be opened to everyone.
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