Every Tuesday afternoon, a group of older women gets together at the Thorold Seniors’ Centre on Carleton Street to craft.
Everything they make — from sleeping mats to wheelchair tote bags — is meant to help someone else.
“We get together to give back,” explains group member Bev Smith, in an interview with ThoroldToday.
The Craft Ladies — as they like to call themselves — have several different projects on the go.
One of the group's longer-running initiatives is making sleeping mats for the homeless out of milk bags.
“There was an article on it quite a long while ago,” explains group member Ruth Dodman. “I happened to read it. I thought: ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ It’s meticulous work. You have to watch what you’re doing because you have to make sure you do them the right way.”
To create the sleeping mats, the women cut milk bags into thick strips that they chain together, after which they weave them on a loom.
“It takes quite a while,” says Dodman. “We only do a little bit at a time but I would say half a dozen strips might take you an hour. You got to make sure it’s tight.”
When the mats are finished, the women donate them to the ‘Out of the Cold’ program at Southridge Community Church in St. Catharines.
This year, the Ladies are also teaming up with James Symons’ Toolbox Niagara campaign to knit hats for the homeless.
“You wind the wool around these looms,” explains group member Joyce Pinfold. “This one maybe took me two days. I don’t do it for that long. James provided the wool. You have to double up so we do two strands a time.”
For Pinfold, the crafting afternoon is an important part of her week.
“I just love the camaraderie and the people,” she says.
For Smith, it’s the giving back that is most important to her.
“When I know someone needs help I try to get in there and help,” she says. “You have to do three good deeds a day. It doesn’t take long.”
Smith, who turned 82 this year, says that crafting has always been a way for her to help others.
“I grew up on a farm in Nova Scotia in the middle of nowhere,” she says. “I was like Dolly Parton. My brothers wore the coats of many colours that I would [patch] up. It’s the way I lived all my life.”
And now, through the Craft Ladies, she is able to continue that work of giving back.
“Somebody will come up with something and we’ll take it on,” Smith says. “Whatever needs to be done.”