By July, staff members at the Vancouver Education Centre had an enormous head start on Santa's elves.
Since last Christmas, Tina Brown, VSB HR Staffing Assistant, has been leading lunch hour knitting sessions for her fellow colleagues. And today, just five months after starting, the hallway in the VSB Human Resources Department is covered with 101 beautifully hand-made toques all to be donated to the homeless this winter.
In 2013, Brown was approached by PLEA, a community-based organization who wanted to put packages together for "Homelessness Awareness Week". That year, while working as an OAA in elementary schools she was able to coordinate the donation of a number of items, but managed only seven hand-knit toques.
"I was determined that the following year we would be able to better," says Brown. "Friends found out what I was trying to achieve and a supply of donated yarn came in. I started knitting in my spare time and by the following September I had made 26 hats; however, that summer I moved into HR so did not get the opportunity to ask the school community to once again support this initiative. So off went the 26 hats."
Earlier this year, colleagues discovered Brown's skills as a knitter and the requests for her to teach fellow staff members how to knit started to pour in. It was then that Brown had her 'a-ha' moment.
"I said I would teach them, and all I asked in return was that they knit at least one toque for the homeless," she says.
Today, just five months after starting, the hallway in the VSB Human Resources Department is covered with 101 beautifully hand-made toques. And although PLEA no longer runs the same program, Brown is working to partner with other organiztions in the Downtown Eastside.
Brown gratefully acknowledges the help of her fellow knitters - Christina K., Donna M., Erika K., Jenny H., Keerthiha S., Linmei G. and Veena G., and the generous donations from Michelle P., Carmen M., Melody T. and Wendy Z.,
"This could not have been such a huge success with out them," she says. "Now we're wondering what we'll do on our lunch hours?-Start next year's toques I guess!"
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If you would like more information on how to support this initiative, please contact:
Community Engagement Coordinator