Langley Seniors Village resident Joyce Dugan knitted with fellow residents late last week. Winter accessories such as toques, scarves and gloves knitted by senior residents of the Willoughby retirement residence are going to the Gateway of Hope and women escaping abusive relationships. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Langley Seniors Village’s ‘Sock Grannies’ warm needy

Dedicated ladies knit winter items for Gateway of Hope, Ishtar Transition Housing Society

The skilled fingers of the ladies residing at Langley Seniors Village are helping warm the heads and feet of people struggling to find shelter this winter.

Every year, staff at Retirement Concepts — including Langley Seniors Village — honour their former resident, Barbara Vance, and her annual Sock Granny campaign for the homeless.

Although Vance is no longer at a Retirement Concepts home, residents and staff continue to keep the tradition alive of collecting (and creating) socks and toques to donate to homeless shelters across the region.

At Langley Seniors Village, a dedicated group of eight to 10 residents get together as part of an informal ‘knitting club.’ They hand-knit scarves, toques, and socks not just for friends and family, but also for the Salvation Army Gateway of Hope shelter on the Langley Bypass.

“They do it because it’s something they enjoy doing and have done their entire lives,” Langley Seniors Village marketing manager Tania De Pape said. “For some it becomes a little bit more difficult as they’re aging, but they love to do it and a lot will donate them. They make gifts for friends but they love participating in the charity aspect, as well.”

Langley Seniors Village staff and residents dropped off as many as four full boxes of these items, and two bags-full of larger winter clothing including hoodies at the Gateway of Hope on Dec. 18, and they will be distributed to people at the shelter.

De Pape said it “made sense” for the staff and the all-ladies knitting group to donate the winter wear to the Gateway of Hope.

“We’ve got a bin rack out front (of the facility) where people will drop them off at any point and time,” De Pape said. “A lot of our toques that we’ve had donated are hand-made by people living here. We have a whole box… one of the ladies who lives here, a friend of hers made them. So she brought those in for her, and donated 25 toques, there. Some of toques are bought, and the socks are brand-new purchased ones, but the majority of our toques are made by the women who live here.”

Some members of the knitting group don’t like being in the spotlight, so they will surreptitiously drop off their creations in a bin in the evening when there is not as many people around.

Ishtar initiative

In a separate effort, Langley Seniors Village raises funds throughout the year to fill 13 shoeboxes full of items such as shampoos, mittens, socks, scarves, candy, and gift cards.

The shoeboxes are being delivered to the Ishtar Transition Housing Society office and then distributed to women escaping abusive relationships.

One Langley Seniors Village resident, who is blind, is a dedicated volunteer, busily knitting scarves for each of the shoeboxes as well as for the Gateway of Hope.

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