It only takes a bit of felt, a strip of ribbon and a dab of glue to give a child superpowers — greater than their imagined X-ray vision and gift of flight, it makes them feel safe and loved.

At the Mount Airy Branch of the Carroll County Public Library on Tuesday, little hands cut and sewed pieces of felt into capes as a part of Capes for a Cause!, an effort coordinated by library patron and sewing teacher Mary Ann Varley, of Damascus.


Varley and several others helped the children cut capes out of felt and then guide their hands as they threaded the felt through the sewing machine to create a tube that a ribbon could be pulled through to fasten around a child's neck. The final step was to decorate the back of the cape with shapes.

The 49 capes that were created will be given to children at the Domestic Violence Safe House, a program offered through the Family and Children's Services in Carroll County.

Varley wanted to give children a chance to give back to others, she said, and that's why she approached the library with the idea.

"It makes them feel empowered," Varley said not just of the children who will be receiving and wearing the capes, but also the children who are making them.

Survivors of domestic violence go to the safe house with their children, who have either witnessed the violence or have suffered it directly, said Kelley Rainey, director of domestic violence services for Family and Children's Services.

"The long-term effects of domestic violence are pretty telling," Rainey said.

From depression to anxiety and nervousness, the children of domestic violence households are coming from a place of chaos and need something to make them feel safe, Rainey said.

"I think that [the capes] give kids a little bit of power," Rainey said. "It makes them feel safe."

Capes for a Cause! ties back to Carroll County Public Library's summer reading program, Every Hero Has a Story, which teaches children that everyone in the community can be a hero, said Beth Heltebriedle, children's services supervisor for the Mount Airy library.

"It's kind of that idea you are the author of your own story's hero … everyone is a hero in their own right," Heltebriedle said.

Samantha Righter, 8, who attended Capes for a Cause!, said she feels like a superhero sometimes — but only when she wears a cape. When Samantha throws a cape over her shoulders, she said she is Super Woman and has "freezing" powers.

"I'm grateful for what I have and want to show the kids that they can get a home soon and believe in themselves," said Samantha, of Mount Airy.

Varley's 9-year-old daughter, Lauren, one of her helpers for the event, wore a black mask wrapped around her head and a yellow felt cape with an "S" zigging across the back that stands for "Super Lauren," she said. Lauren's superpower is the ability to talk with animals, she said.

"My daughter had [her cape] on this afternoon and she said, 'Just wearing it makes me feel special,' " Varley said.


For another one of the helpers circling the room, Madison Camp, 12, of Ijamsville, it was not just the cape that made her feel special.

"I feel special because I know that I'm helping other kids and making them feel better," Madison said.

Ultimately, Varley said, she hopes that children will feel like they can do something small to make a big difference.

"I think it will make them feel pretty good to know that other people care about them," said her 11-year-old son, Jackson, one of the helpers at the event.