Bethel AME Church donates hats to children in Africa

Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 3:05 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - This KOLO Cares report is about members of the Bethel AME Church in Sparks making hats for children in Johannesburg, South Africa.

A woman who cares for children in South Africa traveled to UC Davis outside Sacramento to present a paper and decided to take a side trip to Reno, Nevada to receive the donation at a special ceremony.

She says the gift is sorely needed.

Johannesburg, South Africa’s coldest month is July when the average low dips to near freezing at night.

The hats were presented by Senior Pastor Debra Whitlock Lax and Cynthia Hunter.

“This hat here, I made with my hands. It’s got a lot of love. I present this to you,” said Bethel AME church member, Cynthia Hunter at the presentation ceremony.

Bethel AME Church Pastor Lerato Pitso from the Ivory Park Bethel AME Church in Johannesburg, South Africa accepted the hat as a symbol of all 100 given to her.

She later talked about the children who will get them.

“Most of them come from families that are asylum seekers and undocumented in Johannesburg coming from difficult places in the Continent,” Pitso said.

Pastor Whitlock Lax says the idea came about when snow cancelled in person Sunday services in January of 2023. A zoom service was held instead and Pastor Pitso joined from South Africa.

Pastor Whitlock Lax says she felt inspired to ask a question, “Do your kids get cold? You know I’ve never been to Africa and I’m certainly overwhelmed by Nevada’s cold because I didn’t think it could get cold in Nevada and I asked if she would like some hats and she said “well sure.”

The local movement began. Bethel AME church members in Sparks began making the hats.

“We’re finding a lot of children are losing their lives because of their heads not being covered and it’s so cold there,” said Bethel AME Reverend Richard Lax.

This small movement is a symbol of love traveling from northern Nevada more than 10,000 miles to South Africa.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. In my own language. I will say thank you. Bless you,” Pitso said.

As a side note, the church roof used by the Sparks Bethel AME Church is in need of repair. If you can help with financial donations or with physical repairs contact Pastor Whitlock Lax at