For 15 years, the Great Knitting Giveaway has connected GEF seniors and local charities through a common desire to help Edmontonians in need. Over 100 talented knitters have given countless hours to create thousands of scarves, toques, blankets, and mitts for charities such as Hope Mission, The Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, and Crystal Kids Youth Centre.
The one-day event has traditionally been an opportunity for charities to come pick up items that have been lovingly stitched by GEF seniors, and for the knitters to collect their yarn for next year’s projects. Year after year, individuals in the community have generously donated yarn for this cause.
At the October 2022 Great Knitting Giveaway for example, GEF donated 5,240 items to local charities and received nearly 4,000 skeins of yarn in donations.
But with the community still recovering from the pandemic, and high inflation impacting charitable donations, we knew relying on donated yarn was not a sustainable way forward.
A $7,500 grant from the Edmonton Community Foundation (EFC) combined with a generous discount from a local business and the desire of knitters for a more meaningful connection with the community opened the door to reimagining the Great Knitting Giveaway.
Our Community Partners Come Through!
By March 2023, we were running out of donated yarn. But with the high cost and scarce availability of good quality yarn, we knew we needed help to leverage the grant from ECF. Michael’s craft store, South Common location, came through with a generous discount on bulk yarn. We purchased 1,350 skeins of yarn and had some funds left over to buy bins to store the yarn properly. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/shorts/wpgtGaTBMtM
We literally emptied the shelves of yarn at Michael’s South Common!
A New Vision for the Great Knitting Giveaway
The fresh supply of quality yarn allowed us to step back and envision a whole new approach to the Great Knitting Giveaway. Through previous event feedback, knitters expressed a desire to see where their items were going and possibly meet the people receiving them through more intimate and regular meetings. But our Life Enrichment team was so focused on sorting through yarn donations and organizing the event to make these meaningful connections a reality…until now!
The Great Knitting Giveaway is still happening this year, just not on one day. We are reaching out to our charities individually to distribute knitted items to them in ways that create meaningful connections between the knitters and recipients. We want to extend The Giveaway -and the love that comes from it- beyond a once-a-year interaction. It could mean a trip for the knitters to a specific charity, or the charity might come to visit the knitters in their homes.
This approach also allows the Life Enrichment Team to supply knitters with yarn-on-demand throughout the year. Also, knitters can tailor their projects according to the specific needs of the charities they choose to work with.
Rest assured, Edmontonians will still get their warm woolies this winter. We already have 2,000 items ready to go!
Stay tuned for updates throughout the year on the many knitting projects our residents and tenants complete and their impact on the charities who need them.
How You Can Help
Going forward we will continue to accept donations of NEW YARN ONLY from the community at our various collection points in Edmonton:
West Central: Central Services, 14220 – 109 Ave
Southside: Ottewell Place Lodge, 6207 – 92 Ave
Northside: Rosslyn Place Lodge, 10915 – 134 Ave
If you have any questions about yarn donations, please call 780.482.6561 or email email@example.com.