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"I'm looking for donations of yarn ..." The bright picture and the Facebook request caught my eye, but not because I am sitting on a large stash of wool. It was the next part – the reason for the yarn - "to make hats...scarfs...sweaters...socks...etc for the refugees coming to the Meaford base."

After the first snow last week, we all dug out our woolies to be ready for the inevitable. Because we all have a collection packed away somewhere. But what if you were arriving here in the midst of your very first Canadian winter? Cozy clothes would be at the top of your wish list.

Beth van Aalst is collecting both yarn and people who can knit, crochet and sew for her Helping Hands Craft Club. Van Aalst bethvanalstworks at the base, and while she feels all the needs of the refugees will be well met there, she sees this as one way the community can offer a more personal welcome to Canada.

Ultimately, the Helping Hands Craft Club would like to make a bigger contribution to the community. They would like tohost craft shows in community spaces, for example. Crafters would rent a table to sell their crafts and make a little money for themselves, and would be asked to donate one item to a raffle table. All the proceeds from these and children's activities like facepainting or a fish pond would be used for people in need in the area. High school students helping with load and unloading, or with the children's area or refreshments, could earn needed community volunteer hours.

The Club plans to have a community outreach element too. Want to learn a craft? Lessons could be offered for the cost of the materials at long-term care homes or for groups like Big Brothers-Big Sisters, van Aalst said.

The ultimate motivation for a new club like Helping Hands? "That's our love, and we want to share it" says van Aalst. If you want to participate, or donate yarn, you can email the club at [email protected] or find them on Facebook.


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