A cozy organization that began with three knitters has grown to 50 members who meet regularly to assemble blankets to provide warmth for the needy on Vancouver Island. Knitters Mary Kozicki, Esther Wood and Maggie Salmond who initiated the Victoria chapter of Blankets for Canada, a non-denominational charitable organization devoted to creating blankets for those who need them most, knit and collect eight-inch [20 cm] knitted squares from around the Island to produce blankets for charity.
Originally established in Alberta in 1998, by the year 2000, Blankets for Canada chapters sprang up in almost every province and territory across Canada. People came together to knit by hand or knitting machine and crochet blankets to keep Canadians warm. Men, women, boys and girls have all joined the project.
Mary Kozicki, an original member of the Victoria chapter, holds a degree in nursing. A former owner of a home support agency, Mary hired caregivers to provide services to the elderly and the sick, which helped them stay at home longer.
“Knitting is my passion,” says Mary, who has been knitting since Grade 6.
Esther Wood, another original member, spent several years working as a secretary throughout Saskatchewan. After retirement, she moved to Victoria to be near her family. Now, she has time to paint, play duplicate bridge, do needlework, sew and sculpt fabric mâché angels that she displays at a local art shop.
A friend, who taught Esther how to put knitted squares together, introduced her to Blankets for Canada. In the summer, Esther constructs blankets while she listens to free concert music at the Beacon Hill Bandstand.
Maggie Salmond completes the trio that initiated the chapter three years ago. She spent most of her youth in Victoria, but has also lived in Alberta, Colorado and Illinois. Attending graduate school in the States, Maggie earned a library science degree and subsequently worked as a university librarian in Illinois.
A world traveller, Maggie once took a year off to take a trip around the globe and another year to explore Europe with a temporary work experience in London.
Maggie’s grandmother taught her to knit when she was seven years old. Besides an excuse for socializing, knitting gives Maggie a feeling of accomplishment. “It can be very meditative and it’s something to do when I’m watching television,” says Maggie, who also crotchets, embroiders and quilts. Her latest hobby is nature photography and watercolour painting from her photos.
The Victoria chapter of Blankets for Canada has donated blankets to women’s shelters, churches, homeless shelters, VHES housing project, VIHA mental health housing projects, Victoria Hospitals Foundation, a daycare centre and others. Their most recent contribution, 24 blankets, went to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation Society.
The knitters come together at Michael’s Craft Room every Thursday afternoon to knit or crotchet squares together, to meet people and to chat. “It’s a very good cause,” they say.
For more information about Blankets for Canada, or how to start a local chapter, log on to www.blankets4canada.ca or call Mary at 250-370-1517.
DECEMBER 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER ISLAND
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