Sweater Drive
Liam with Mr. McFeely for the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Sweater Drive

Like many third-graders, Liam Welge finds joy at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: He always heads to The Garage, and he makes sure to check out the fun temporary exhibits such as Very Eric Carle and last year’s BOUNCE!

Now, Liam is giving back to the museum that has given him so much, by contributing 1,400 new and gently used sweaters to the museum’s 16th Annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. Liam will deliver the sweaters to the museum today, November 25, and the museum will partner with the Presbyterian Churches of the Tri-State Area, The Homeless Children’s Education Fund and others to distribute the clothing to local families.

Liam collecting sweaters.

“I wanted to help people to keep warm this winter who cannot afford to buy sweaters,” Liam said in an email. “I have learned that giving is important and a lot of people are generous when they find out people are in need.”

After meeting with the museum’s Executive Director Jane Werner to find out what he could do to help, Liam embarked on a goal to collect 1,000 sweaters between Nov. 9 and Nov. 13 to support the museum’s annual effort, which ends Dec. 15. With the help of his mother, Jodie Welge who serves on the museum’s board, Liam enlisted Quaker Valley School District to set up donation spots at Edgeworth and Osborne Elementary Schools. Other Sewickley-area businesses and the Sewickley Hunt Club soon jumped in, soliciting donations from employees and members.

“My goal was to bring the community together to help reach a higher goal,” Jodie Welge said. “Making posters, using social media, making fliers for kids at school, all those things can help make it successful.”

Even Mr. McFeely, the museum’s master of ceremonies, gave Liam a shout-out for his efforts while kicking off the museum’s annual drive on Nov. 6.

Since 2000, the museum has collected over 34,000 sweaters to give to local families in need, including drives organized by Girl Scout troops, Boy Scout troops, and schools. But museum officials say Liam is the first individual child to organize a donation effort on behalf of the museum.

“Some of his friends saw him and said, ‘I’m going to collect sweaters next year,’” Jodie Welge said. “This showed him that his project can inspire others to do good things.”

Melanie Cox McCluskey

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Melanie is a free-lance copywriter and journalist whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Venus Zine and Maniac Magazine.