Sew much love
Threads of Hope volunteers create handmade clothing, dog beds and other items for individuals, organizations in Winnipeg, Manitoba and elsewhere in the world
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2022 (211 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Cindy Bell has always been energized by giving back. For over 30 years, the mother of three and grandmother of five has been involved with the local Scouts and Guides, and much of her adult life has been spent volunteering her time to help and inspire others.
In 2017, she decided to take her love of giving and create Threads of Hope, a non-profit organization that provides handmade items to children, adults and animals, locally and globally. Whether it’s bibs and blankets for babies here or in Uganda, dresses for children in Mexico, bed sheets and quilts for Main Street project, surgical hats for health centres and hospitals around Manitoba or bags for ceremonial drums in Winnipeg, there are few limits to the group’s outreach and support.
“The only limit is finances, we do this totally on donations,” said Bell about the group that meets at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church. “Our main goal is to bring some love and some care into the lives of people who are having a rough go. We can’t change their situation, but maybe we can brighten their day a little. It’s not about what we think they need, it’s about what they want and need.”
Threads of Hope welcomes all interested people to join together to help others. Volunteers aim to make a difference in the world by sharing their gifts and talents, creatively repurposing fabric and reducing the impact on landfills. Projects vary each month, with hats, mitts, neck warmers and bags for foster children, and a long list of other items depending on needs and resources. Each item is created with love for its recipient and the hope that each small act of kindness will let recipients know that someone cares.
“We have a wonderful and wide range of people. It’s been absolutely amazing,” Bell said of the volunteers ranging in age from eight to 99.
There are many different opportunities to help, and volunteers arrive when they can and stay for as long as they like. The projects have various skill levels to keep everyone engaged. Mentorship is provided for those with an interest in learning how to sew.
“It is such a team effort. People who can’t sew, they come and they cut,” said Bell, citing the sense of purpose this cultivates in volunteers.
With the range of handmade items, Bell said there’s never any fabric waste. Threads of Hope uses leftover fabric pieces to make dog beds and crate liners to send up north.
“We support a lot of organizations. Our hats and mitts have been going up with the Manitoba Animal Alliance with the dog beds for the reserves. We support the Selkirk Friendship Centre there and the mothering project.”
Volunteers keep informed about current events worldwide and help wherever and whenever they can. When the fires in Australia were raging, they sent shipments of handmade items. During the pandemic they made surgical caps and masks.
Sometimes working up to 14 hours a day during times of increased need, the group doesn’t sell anything; items are created and sent wherever they are needed.
Since the group began five years ago, there’s been a continued increase both in volunteers and groups they assist. Locally, Threads of Hope has supported the Children’s Hospital, Crisis Pregnancy Centre; Mount Carmel’s The Mothering Project, Gifts of Grace, Main Street Project, children in Northern Reserves, Work & Social Opportunities, Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue, and Manitoba Animal Alliance Rescue. Globally, they’ve assisted organizations in Australia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nigeria and Uganda.
“All of the projects that we do are done with our very best,” said Bell. “It’s important for us that the people feel valued and are receiving the very best that we offer.
“All of us sew at home. Some of us make two blankets a day. We meet on Saturdays at the church, just come when you can. No pressure at all. There’s lots of people who want to help but there’s not always a way for them to do it. It gives them a way to still be creative and not have to worry about anything else. Many have learned to quilt — the skills and the artistry.”
Bell says the team effort is a reminder that people want to help and, if given an opportunity, they’ll show up.
“We pay attention to what is going on in the world and reach out. We could not be doing it without the support of fabric places in Winnipeg. They provide discounted prices and good quality.
“It’s a little bit of kindness, like a pebble in the pond. We don’t know where it’s going to go but you have faith that somebody’s day will be better. There’s hope. Our young people are caring. There’s some good going in. If you feel led to doing something come see us, come volunteer with us. You’ll love the people. We all still learn new skills. It’s exciting. We’ve made connections with other groups, we assist each other, we help them. There’s none of this competitiveness, it’s co-operative.”
Donations can be made to St. Saviour’s Anglican Church c/o Threads of Hope, 690 Munroe Ave., Winnipeg, MB R2K 1J2. Tax receipts issued upon request. To learn more, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org