Knitting club continues pattern of helping

Whitecliff residents making sweaters destined for impoverished newborns in Rwanda.

Doreen Reid lays out some of the 28 jumpers

When the knitting club at Whitecliff Retirement Residence meets every Saturday morning for their weekly gathering, the topic of conversation the members will find themselves discussing can be anybody’s guess.

From local happenings at their 16 Avenue retirement community to international affairs, no subject is off-limits.

And while some days, discussions centre on topics that the knitters may consider inconsequential, there is no doubt the knitted items the group is creating are of the utmost importance.

“It’s such a worthwhile thing for us to do,” Doreen Reid, group leader said of the bright-coloured jumpers and hats the group has been knitting for the past few months, destined for Rwanda where they’ll be worn by newborn babies.

The group was introduced to the idea by a member whose church is involved with Embrace Rwanda, a Vancouver-based non-profit society, founded in 2008, that provides development and support for some of the country’s most impoverished rural families.

Reid said that many babies in the region are born into families who can’t afford clothes or blankets, so the infants are wrapped in newspaper to keep them warm.

Upon launching the project two months ago, word about what the group was doing made its way around Whitecliff quickly, and Reid said the group grew from just a few members to 12.

“And five of our members, I should tell you, are over 90 years old,” Reid, herself 96, said.

So far, the club has completed 28 jumpers, made from a simple pattern that is meant to fit the child until he or she is around two years old.

Each one takes on average two weeks to complete, Reid said – although some knitters in the group are quicker than others.

One of the requirements of the project is that the jumpers are made from dark or bold-coloured yarn – not the pastel colours one would typically use to knit baby clothes – because the garments are unlikely to be laundered once they are donated to a family in need. The yarn, Reid said, is provided by Revera, the company that owns Whitecliff.

When the group wraps up the project – Reid said they hope to continue making the sweaters until May of next year – they will be hand-delivered to families by Embrace Rwanda’s founder, North Vancouver resident Hilary King.

“That way, we know they’ll get to where they need to go,” Reid said.

It’s not the first time the knitting club has put their crafty capabilities to a good cause; a few years ago, the group knitted several lap blankets for patients at Peace Arch Hospital. This project, however, has been met with an abundance of enthusiasm, Reid said, as knowing what a difference their creations will make in the lives of babies half a world away has “struck a chord” with the group.

“It makes us feel good about ourselves,” Reid said. “It’s wonderful knowing that we can still contribute something.”

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