One of the highlights of the 2021 inauguration was Bernie Sanders’s mittens. The Vermont senator wore a pair of thick, cozy mittens, made by elementary school teacher Jen Ellis, to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s swearing-in ceremonies, and went viral as a result.
Sanders decided to use the sudden boost of internet fame for good. He put that now-iconic image of his mitten-clad self on T-shirts, sweaters, stickers, and other merch and sold it on his website, with the proceeds going to charity.
And now we know how much “Chairman Sanders” helped raise: $1.8 million, according to Today. Sanders’s office said the charities benefitting from these proceeds include Meals on Wheels organizations throughout Vermont, Vermont community action agencies, the Chill Foundation, the Vermont Parent Child Network, Feeding Chittenden, senior centers in Vermont, and Bistate Primary Care for dental care improvements in Vermont.
The good news doesn’t stop there. Today reports Getty Images will donate the money it made off the merchandise to Meals on Wheels of America. Plus, Burton Snowboards—which made Sanders’s jacket in the photo—donated 50 jackets in Sanders’s name to the Burlington Department for Children and Families. Oh, and a crocheted doll of “Chairman Sanders” sold at an auction. I need to see that ASAP.
Ellis, who made the original mittens, teased all of this on Twitter over the weekend. “Bernie Sanders called me earlier today to tell me that the mitten frenzy has already raised an enormous amount of money for Vermont charities,” she wrote. “I am not authorized to disclose the amount yet- but it’s BIG and it’s amazing! Thank you!! Generosity brings joy.” Today reports she’s made even more mittens to help fundraise for charity organizations across Vermont.
“Jane [Sanders’s wife] and I were amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use my internet fame to help Vermonters in need,” Sanders said in a statement, according to Today. “But even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress, and I will be doing everything I can in Washington to make sure working people in Vermont and across the country get the relief they need in the middle of the worst crisis we’ve faced since the Great Depression.”