A Montreal community group is working to bring the joy of Christmas to those in need, offering hand-knit items such as hats, scarves and mittens as a way to weave in kindness and warmth .
Colleen Gleadall, a captain in the Salvation Army and pastor at Montreal’s Citadelle Church, told CTV National News she was new to knitting, but said some people in the group really knew how to knit. unravel with a needle.
Gleadall said the items, created by a Salvation Army knitting circle known as Stitch & Chat, hang from a Christmas tree outside the church and are free to anyone who need it.
“[I’m] just trying to give people that warmth because it’s cold,” she said.
Gleadall said the handmade ornaments are replenished every other day by the knitting circle, which formed three years ago and has been adorning a Christmas tree ever since.
She said the hand-knit hats, scarves and mittens are featured on the tree – rather than being picked up or donated to a shelter – so no one knows who is catching them, eliminating any potential stigma.
“Part of what we want to do is give people dignity, and for a lot of people having to ask for help, having to ask for essential items, that can be difficult,” Gleadall said.
She added that those in need may feel embarrassed that they cannot provide for their children or family members.
“So by making it anonymous, nobody needs to know where they got it,” she said.
While COVID-19 has separated the knitting circle for most of the year, making items independently from home, knitters say their resolve has remained as strong as ever.
“I think it’s one of the most satisfying feelings…when I can do something to make life a little better, easier for someone else,” said knitter Eleanor Shepherd.
Gleadall said the handmade items not only keep strangers warm, but can lift people’s spirits in these trying times.
“There’s hope in that. Even though with COVID it sometimes seems hopeless, there are people out there who care about each other,” she said.