Not your average Saturday morning knitting circle.
Members of Knitting for Shivering Children met this past weekend to kick off its 2013 effort to help prevent respiratory illnesses in children.
About 200 colourfully knit vests were neatly laid out in piles on a table in the middle of the bright memorial hall at St. Aidan’s Anglican church. Surrounding the vests 28 women sat in a circle knitting.
The group, run by the Beach United Church, has a goal this year of 1750 vests – more than double last year’s goal – to be sent off to developing countries.
“Last year the goal was 600 and we ended up with 1245,” said Pat Davies, the group leader. “A good goal gets people knitting.”
One housebound donor, Marion Mahyr, donated 250 vests last year, and gave 94 vests on Saturday to start off this year’s effort, said Davies.
Knitting for Shivering Children has around 40 members and receives donations from Toronto, surrounding cities, and abroad, said Davies. They meet on the second Saturday of each month from January until May from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The day before Mother’s Day, the vests are hung on clothes lines on display at the church.
“On Mother's Day they’re blessed, then we leave them up for a couple weeks so people can see them,” said Davies.
The vests are then given to the non-profit Canadian Food for Children, which sends clothing, food, and medicine to developing countries, said Davies.
“These are to keep them warm at night as many hot countries get quite cold,” said Davies.
“Last year because we had so many, we packed them bags of 50 to send to each country,” said Abigail Johnson, minister at United Beach Church. “That means when these things arrive, kids get to choose the colour.”
Johnson noted people get very creative when they make the different patterns on the vests.
“Some people are going to places like Value Village, and then getting a sweater that they like and pull it apart to use the yarn. That way we’re re-purposing,” she said.
Last year one of the vests even had a Canadian maple leaf knit into the design, said Davies.
The group meetings are held at Memorial Hall in St. Aidan’s Anglican Church while the Beach United Church is being renovated.
The group consists of members between the ages of 3 months old to 93 years old and receives new members each year.
“We have mothers who bring their babies,” said Davies. “The 3-month-olds don’t produce a lot.”
The group accepts donations of vests as well as yarn, which can be dropped off at the church or by contacting Pat Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org