Blankets bring together comfort and community

Laughter, conversation, and whirl of sewing machines, fills the halls of the Yale community centre, each Tuesday evening, as some special work is done by some special ladies.

Gail Kerslake (centre) and the ladies of Yale B.C. meet each week in a traditional sewing circle to share stories

Laughter, conversation, and whirl of sewing machines, fills the halls of the Yale community centre, each Tuesday evening, as some special work is done by some special ladies.

It was four years ago that Yale resident Gail Kerslake started making baby blankets with her sister Gloria Nystrom to be sent around the world.

“Often you would go to Gail’s and see fabric lying on the table and her sewing machine at the ready,” says Tanya Lee-Jones. “When she spoke of the destinations for these blankets you could just see and hear the passion she had for what she was doing.”

And passion that strong is truly infectious and quickly spread to many others in the small community.

“We take for granted that we can go to a store and choose a blanket with a pattern that pleases us, or when we enter a hospital there are warm blankets available for our comfort,” said Jones.

In many places around the world that simply is not the reality.

“In some of India’s hospitals they have one patient after another and a shortage of blankets. In China and Russia there are orphanages that have many needs but few resources.”  Even in our own province there are areas where a simple blanket is needed not only for warmth but for comfort.

“The soft caress of fabric wrapped around a sick child becomes a cocoon of comfort; a parent can hold their child and feel an emotional hug knowing someone, somewhere, cared enough to take the time to make this small token of love for someone they don’t even know,” added Jones.

The Yale ladies, working in the traditional style of social sewing circles of the past, spend their evenings chatting, ironing, cutting, sewing, or folding – everyone woman in the room has something to offer.

Already 125 blankets have been sent to China, 75 have gone to India and now they are preparing a batch for Nunavut. Next on their list is an orphanage in Russia; each bundle moves carefully onto its intended destination through Operation Rainbow or various church ministries.

“These ladies bring far more than just comfort to those elsewhere; they are a testament to us through their actions of what community is supposed to look like.  They are our teachers, they show us the importance of working together and that you can make a difference, one blanket at a time,” said Jones. “A young girl not only learns to sew within this circle of women, she also learns what it means to give of her time and the pride that comes when you can help others.”

“And the comfort that these blankets bring to others is just as beneficial to the ladies themselves, for they know that they have done something for their community simply by reaching out to others.”

Anyone interested in joining the ladies group can drop by the Yale and District Community Centre on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m.  Bring a sewing machine if you can and any donations of sheets and old blankets are welcomed.

For more information call Gail at 604-863-0001.

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