October 22, 2021

8-year-old spreads the love

A little weaving does a lot of good

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Kendall Manuel of Locke puts the finishing touches on a pot holder she sells for charity.

LOCKE — Kendall Manuel has learned the ins and outs of a home-based business from those little looms designed to make pot holders.

The Locke girl, a second grader in the Southern Cayuga School District, can follow directions, create complicated patterns, tie off her squares with a long hook and package her work.

Her mom, Amy, created a Face book page that markets her work — Kendall’s Homemade Potholders. And her dad, J.T. Manuel, a heavy equipment operator at the William George Agency, creates the designs for the squares.

She’s hired her cousin to help make the product.

The 8-year-old is making pot holders to benefit St. Jude’s Hospital, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Home Stretch Dog Haven in Moravia, raising more than $600 since mid-February.

“A lot of children are sick and it’s hard for parents to have a child sick and in the hospital,” Kendall said April 5. “I wanted to get the money to them, for them to be happy and their parents to be happy too.”

And then there’s the animals.

Gretchen Fickeisen, the head of Home Stretch Dog Haven in Moravia, was so impressed by the Manuel family and the efforts of Kendall.

“She’s an amazing little girl,” said Fickeisen. “Her family has instilled a sense of community in her … They have donated to the rescue in the past. I got a call from her mom. She was in the Girl Scouts that came here when we had puppies (we) rescued.”

Kendall’s donation will go to help the animals, including its spay and neuter program and rescue operation, she said. “Right now we’re working on a dog running wild in Scipio. Dog wardens don’t have time for that,” she said.

Her organization will step in and help and it takes time and resources.

Kendall got a taste of pot holder making at school for a class project. She has been alternating between in-person and remote learning. When her dad contracted COVID-19 from a co-worker last winter, the household had to quarantine, Amy Manuel said, although nobody else, including 5-year-old Alexa and 2-year-old Chelsea, caught it.

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Amy Manuel, a family day care provider, with her other two girls, Alexa, 5, on left and Chelsea, 2.

“We were in quarantine and I hadn’t finished my pot holder yet,” Kendall said. “My teacher had to bring it here. I wanted to keep making more.”

The pot holder project became more important to the family as they were confined to the house. Alexa is the designer for the rainbow pot holder. Chelsea has her own take on the business.

“What is Chelsea’s favorite thing to do with the loops?” Amy asked.

“Throw them at people,” Kendall said.

Kendall had a birthday during the quarantine. Her parents organized a drive-by party. At that point, J.T. was out of isolation and could funnel presents from the birthday attendees and bring them to his daughter, Amy Manuel said.

One of her presents, from her grandmother, was a loom.

In February the girl decided to sell the pot holders, $4 apiece. Half of each sale goes to supplies. Amy gets the loops off the internet at $90 for a large bag.

“We already went through one bag,” Kendall said. “Sometimes we don’t have enough colors so we do any colors that are left.”

Katie Keyser/living and leisure editor

Kendall Manuel in her Locke home, where she started a business selling pot holders.

Her mom thought she’d use the proceeds for a Nintendo Switch, which Kendall had been saving for. But she decided to give the money away.

“She saw her nana go through chemotherapy a second time,” Amy said of her mother.

When Kendall learned that children have to have chemotherapy for cancer, as well, she wanted to help.

“I realize that if some one is sick, you have to be nice and do something for them,” Kendall said.

“Kendall is such a sweetheart. She’s such a good kid,” said Roberta Gabriel of King Ferry.

Gabriel worked with Amy at the JM Murray Center in Cortlandville. She knew Amy before she had children. “She’s a good person, she gives to a lot of people,” Gabriel said of Amy. “A really, really hard worker, very smart.”

Kendall enlisted Gabriella Hale, 9, her cousin and next door neighbor, to help her make pot holders. They generally take one hour, from designing to weaving to edging, Amy Manuel said.

“Usually we do them really fast,” Kendall said.

“We took a picture and posted it on Facebook and people were buying more and more,” Amy Manuel said. Then she started a Facebook page for her daughter — Kendall’s Homemade Potholders.

“I have a button on there so it goes straight to Messenger to order,” Amy said.

“We sold five pot holders in Florida that way,” Kendall said. “We dropped one off to my dance teacher’s house. She is going to put it on her Facebook pages.”

“It’s been kind of a family bonding experience with all of us doing it together,” Amy said.