It all started with a couple Calgarians wanting to share their love of knitting and crocheting.
Five years and more than 160 members later, it’s now a full-fledged non-profit called Warm the Homeless, with a mission help some of Calgary’s most vulnerable people.
The group of volunteers, mostly made up of seniors, knit, crochet and quilt blankets and sew hats and scarves for several Calgary shelters and other frontline agencies.
Organizers say the demand for donations has only increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also rejuvenated the senior volunteers.
“It’s their purpose daily,” founder Terressa Moore said. “We have seniors that, all day they make blankets, all day. That’s their purpose and their job. They have so much pride.”
“You can tell a lot of love and care really went into this stuff – it’s all handmade,” Clinton Siebert with the Mustard Seed said. “The main words are just, ‘Thank you – thank you for this.’ Because it can be the difference between surviving or spending a really cold night out on the street.”
Since the pandemic began the group has already handmade and donated more than 100 blankets, along with dozens of hats and scarves, but they also saw another need: supplies for frontline healthcare workers.
So they took on yet another task — making more than 250 face masks and 200 specially made headbands so nurses can wear their masks comfortably.
As a non-profit, the group relies solely on donations, with the biggest need for donations of acrylic yarn.
And though it’s entirely a labour of love, with each blanket taking nearly 40 hours to make, the warm-and-fuzzy feeling of giving back is payment enough.
“It just warms my heart. It makes me happy. When we’ve driven down the road and seen people on the street wrapped in our blanket… you just cry all the way home because it’s just so heartwarming,” Moore said.
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“If you can make someone who has nothing in life feel like someone in the world cares about them, nothing’s better than that.”