Edmonton woman knits dozens of teddy bears for children each Christmas: ‘I just love doing it’
Early Wednesday morning, Marcelle Jamieson quickly finished her latest knitting project before heading out to donate her collection of handmade gifts.
For several years, the Edmonton senior has knitted teddy bears for children who have fled domestic violence and are spending the holidays in a women’s shelter.
She donates the bear to Global Edmonton’s Give Me Shelter campaign, of which she has been a long-time supporter.
Edmontonians have been dropping off items at the Global Edmonton studio for the campaign since it launched in 2004. At first, Jamieson spent about a decade donating store-bought bears and other stuffed animals.
“I didn’t know you accepted homemade stuff, so I used to just give other stuff,” she said Wednesday morning in the Global Edmonton lobby.
“And then when I found out you do accept homemade stuff, I’ve been doing what, four or five years I think, with these bears. Because I found out you all love them, so I continue on.”
Jamison has become a welcome and familiar face to staff who open the doors to the public one morning each year and sticks around to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with other visitors.
“I like watching other people coming in and bringing toys because I just love Christmas. It’s one of my favourite times of the year,” she said.
Each bear takes Jamison three days to make — but she jokes if she didn’t have to feed her husband, she could get each one done in a day and a half.
The bears are her own design.
“My mother wanted one because she never had one when she was a child,” Jamieson said, explaining she experimented until she came up with a pattern she liked.
“So after that, people in her building fell in love with them, so I was giving them to them, and then I said no, no — I’m going to give to children. So I started making for children.”
She starts by knitting and stuffing the head, and then making the ears. She then makes the body, sews the two pieces together and then attaches the legs and arms.
“And then the sweater. My mother invented the sweater,” she said. “Because when I made her her first bear, she said the bear looked too cold, so she made a sweater — and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
She’s made at least 50 bears this year alone, and donated 14 of them, plus a knitted sock monkey, to the Give Me Shelter campaign.
“I’m knitting one right now — at home there’s half of one made,” she told Global News, before pointing to a bright blue bear in the pile. “I finished this one a half hour before I came here. So at four in the morning, I was rushing to make it, finishing it off,” she laughed.
So why does Jamieson, who leads a busy life volunteering already, spend hours upon hours knitting the teddy bears?
“I love Christmas, I love giving, and I love children. I dunno… I just love doing it.”
The Give Me Shelter campaign collects basic needs like clothing and toiletries and provides them to five women’s shelters in our city: Win House, WINGS, A Safe Place, LaSalle Residence and Lurana Shelter.
And it couldn’t come at a more important time.
A Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics report, released earlier this year, shows Alberta has seen a two per cent increase in family violence since 2014. The province also ranks third-highest in rates of intimate partner violence out of all Canadian provinces.
Jan Reimer, executive director of Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS), said there are around 5,000 women who use Alberta women’s shelters annually and “many, many more who can’t” because of a lack of capacity.
An ACWS assessment shows about 66 per cent of women in Alberta shelters are at severe or extreme risk of being killed, Reimer said.
Here’s a list of items Give Me Shelter is looking for people to donate:
- gift cards (iTunes, clothing stores, department stores etc.)
- adult colouring books
- pencil crayons
- toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo etc.)
- new clothing
- gifts for teenagers
- toys for kids of any age
- mittens and outerwear
- face cloths, hand and bath towels
Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at Global Edmonton (5325 Allard Way) or any Royal Pizza location, until Dec. 15.
Give Me Shelter was started by former Global Edmonton news anchor-turned-Vancouver radio host Lynda Steele.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.