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A touching yarn about knitting scarves for cold kids

Grade 12 student spearheads effort

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2015 (923 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Alex Arrigo is spearheading an effort to knit 60 scarves that will be donated to schoolchildren in need.

Not bad, considering when she came up with the idea, she didn't even know how to knit.

Alex Arrigo collected yarn and, with the help of classmates, is knitting scarves for those who need them.


Alex Arrigo collected yarn and, with the help of classmates, is knitting scarves for those who need them.

Arrigo, a Grade 12 student at J.H. Bruns Collegiate, came up with the idea for her "Alex's Scarves" initiative after hearing an inspiring presentation by Chris Loewen this past December. Loewen is the founder of Butterfly, a local organization that helps young people turn their ideas for social projects and events into reality.

Loewen asked Arrigo and her classmates what they can do to make a difference in the world. A few days later, Arrigo approached one of her teachers, Angela Kaisser, about collecting donated yarn and then knitting scarves.

"It's the middle of winter... and Winnipeg winters can be cold and miserable," Arrigo said. "I just wanted to make a difference in a child's life."

Loewen is involved with the Inside Out program at J.H. Bruns, helping students learn the art of project management. With his help, and with Kaisser's guidance as well, Arrigo set a goal of raising 30 skeins of yarn and 10 metres of fleece.

Arrigo exceeded her goal within a week of launching the campaign. Kaisser has taught her arm knitting -- a knitting technique that uses the knitter's arms instead of knitting needles -- and Arrigo has subsequently taught the technique to her classmates.

They are currently in the midst of making the scarves, which they will donate to grades 1 to 3 children in the Louis Riel School Division.

"It feels really good," Arrigo said of exceeding her fundraising goal, noting exposure on Butterfly's website helped spread the word.

"I never expected going into this that it would be this public. I'm really happy about that, and it's exciting for me."

Although she was new to knitting when Kaisser first taught her in early December, it has since become a hobby for Arrigo.

"I'm really enjoying it so far," she said. "It's been fun teaching my classmates, too. It's great watching how they make these scarves."

Kaisser, who has taught Arrigo a variety of subjects since Grade 9, describes her as a compassionate, conscientious person.

"She has a really kind heart and always wants to help others," Kaisser said, noting Arrigo is doing a great job of balancing her school work, part-time job and her volunteer efforts making scarves. "When she sets her mind on something, she does it."

Arrigo says the subjects in school she most enjoys are art and cooking. She works part time as a nail technician at a beauty salon and enjoys spending time with her friends and watching TV during her spare time.

After graduation, Arrigo is considering becoming a full-time beauty-salon esthetician or nutritionist.

In the meantime, she's having fun knitting scarves with her friends.

Given the amount of donations they received, they will be able to knit many more than the 60 scarves they originally planned.

Arrigo is happy about that.

"I just wanted to make a difference and do something involving my community," she said.


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