Saturday, January 4, 2014

People are Good - Books and Knitting

I hope that everyone's holidays were filled with food, wine, sleep and laughter - I spent most of it with family but also managed to sneak in some reading time.  Right now I'm reading Dan Brown's Inferno - all of Brown's books are near-apocalyptic, describing global problems that are in his mind, unsolvable.  He loves looking into the heart of e-vil (pinky to corner of mouth) because I guess that sells more than the fundamental truth:
The vast majority of people are good, and doing their very best with the skills and resources that they have - we are all looking for the same thing: a sense of value, however you define it.

Okay enough deep thoughts from Anita - on to greater things.  I have 3 things on the agenda today.

1.  Remember my friend Margaret?  She of the mystery-booties from the last posting?  My friend Seetal hooked me up with a literacy coordinator in Moose Factory, who then hooked up with Margaret.  Margaret took this on as a personal project and has done spectacular things - she has coordinated the shipment of 1350 pounds of books to the community which are used in book camps, after school programs and for other stuff.  There is no real community library so this is kind of huge.  The challenge is always to ensure that the books are the ones that the kids there want to read and make sense - in the words of the coordinator there, no point sending BabySitter Club or Olson Twins books to these communities as this is not their reality.  The big hits seem to be non-fiction, books about animals, books with aboriginal relevance.  Here are Margaret's words:

Books for students along James Bay

As a reader of The Warm Hands Network blog, you may know that Anita identified a need for children's books and established a contact with the literacy specialist at the school board serving Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moose Factory.  These First Nations communities are located in Northern Ontario along the James Bay coast.  There is no road access to these small communities; Moose Factory has rail access but all the rest are fly-in only, most of the year. 

This post is to bring The Warm Hands Network up to date with the events of 2013. 

I’m a friend, neighbour and former co-worker with Anita who got involved when I found a few nature books at my local library book sale.   From my first box to send to Vicki Von Zuben at Omushkego Education Authority in early June 2013, the book campaign has grown more than I ever imagined.

I was at a major book sale in June and the light bulb went on -   when the sale closes, all these books need to go somewhere !!  I explained how the books would be used and the organizers gave me all the children's books at the end of the sale.  So I went from intending to buy a few books at 2 pm to having a truckload of books at 4 pm.  (Big surprise for my husband).   

Through various contacts here in Ottawa including: literacy specific books from the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library; buying at thrift shops; donations after book sales; a book drive by the Nepean Girl Guides; and donations from individual families, the grand total for 2013 is 42 boxes and 1350 lbs of books sent to schools along James Bay plus 7 boxes shared here in Ottawa.  

TD Bank has agreed to donate $1300 to cover the shipping costs for 2013. 

Everyone I've met has been very excited to contribute books to children who otherwise would not have access.    And made great suggestions and linkages that get more books and support.  

I'm excited about how this has developed and the potential for replication. If Ottawa can support 4 or more remote communities with high quality, used children’s books; volunteers in other Ontario communities could establish links to Northern communities for similar book collection and shipping. I’d be happy to provide more details to anyone who would like to take up that challenge.    Please email me at

2.  I got a sweet letter back from the Children's First Society in Inuvik.  I wanted to share a photo of a giant card that one of the groups of kids made: I am such a sucker for kiddie hand traces.  Cuteness or what?:

I have sent an email to the head of the organization to see if they would like a second shipment in January.  Wasn't part of our master plan but its so damn cold (-30 without the wind-chill today) and I hate thinking of any little kid without socks, hats, mitts, sweaters.

3.  Got tons of new stuff!

Here we go:

So the next 6 photos are of items which came in 2 separate boxes and I was blown away by the loveliness of them.  Clearly there are some expert knitters at Duke.  The note attached is as follows:

"These gifts were knitted by the preop anesthesia group at Duke University Med. Center - donated in honor of our physician director Dr. Ron Olson.  Dr. Keri Wahl and Mary Hawthorne organized the project."

Keri and Mary, thank you so much for thinking of us - I promise that the items will go to very good use.  I took a closeup of the crochet blanket because I love the detailing on it.

Bonnie Belanger of Ottawa (rav name Panther) has always been a wonderful supporter - you can always count on at least a couple of boxes in the mail from Bonnie, and once again, she did not disappoint.  Bonnie, you know that I love me some socks - these ones will come in very handy!  Bonnie also knitted the hats, neck-warmers and and socks below.

Karen Zorn of Bradenbury SK - you can see that I'm having trouble  extracting this little guy from my girl's arms.   So sweet!

Karen also made this sweater, baby mitts and sockies...

...and the vests and sweaters above.  I can see a little boy being thrilled with the sweater.

And finally Bartone (sorry couldn't fine your first name) of Conneat,  Ohio, thank you for the hats - very very cozy!