Baby, its cold outside

According to today’s Star, the City of Toronto has issued an extreme cold weather alert with sub-zero temperatures expected over the next several days.  With that in mind, I offer this heartwarming story from Streetknit’s media guru.  This is what inspired Ryan to volunteer his time to the project.

One night, in 2005, Gladys Berg of Winnipeg (85 at the time), was
watching CTV Winnipeg news reporter Marilee Caruso who had spent a
night on the streets with one of Winnipeg’s homeless youth and aired
her experience as a one hour documentary feature.  Gladys’s heart
went out to this homeless young man and found what she was bearing
witness to horrible.  What touched her deeply, was the fact that it
was cold and pouring rain the night of Marilee’s expose and the
documentary showed where this young man slept:  what looked like
chicken wire on top of a board and it was wet and saturated.  Within
the first half hour, Marilee reported that her legs were so cold,
that she couldn’t feel them.  After walking around all night while
being given a “tour” of where the homeless frequented, Marilee and
the young man happened across a youth around 18 or 19 in the morning,
scrounging around in a garbage bin for something to eat.  They soon
learned that he hadn’t had anything to eat the day before and the day
before that yielded only a partial donut from a dumpster.

Gladys’s heart broke.  For quite some time she had been knitting and
had accumulated quite a bit of stuff but unsure about what she was
going to do with it all.  After viewing the documentary, she
immediately knew.  The scarves and toques were going to the
homeless.  As her knitting accumulated, her daughter Patty Lohr,
contacted Marilee in order to find out where she could drop off the
knitting for the homeless.  Marilee told her about “Ray of Hope”, an
outreach program for homeless youth in Winnipeg.  Marilee was
immediately impressed and excited about what Gladys was doing and
wanted to interview her and Patty.  She was initially reluctant to
be interviewed as she “didn’t want the publicity”, but was eventually
convinced that if the efforts of one person could be shown to the
public that this would be inspiration for others.  Gladys and Patty
were featured in a TV news segment and Gladys’ story was told.  This
same newscast showed the same young man originally seen by Gladys in
the first news report, donning one of her toques and scarves.  Much
to her chagrin, Gladys became an instant “celebrity” in the seniors’
complex where she lives.  She was inundated with yarn from residents
and staff in the complex who wanted to support her efforts and do
their “bit” by putting to good use, yarn which wasn’t being used.

Since that time, Gladys had encountered serious health issues for
about a year, but that did not stop her.  Once she was well enough,
in 2006,  she picked up her pet project and began to knit up a storm
as soon as she could and it would be safe to say that she has knit
more than one hundred articles for the homeless since Marilee’s
documentary (and uncounted numbers when she lived in a small
community outside of Winnipeg prior to 2002).  Not only has she been
knitting for homeless youth, but also for single mothers with
children.  Another on-going project has seen knitted to date,
approximately seventy-five tiny toques for babies leaving the
hospital to go home.

Gladys, who will be 87 this May, is currently working on her fourth
batch of scarves and toques for homeless youth.  Even her daughter
Patty is thinking about picking up the needles soon as “she may as
well be doing something” on the nights she goes to spend with her
mother.  Gladys tells us that she is currently knitting a nice green
toque with bright stripes and a deep rose coloured one as well.  She
also reports that she lost a knitting needle tonight and that it got
lodged in her chair and that she can’t get it out.  Not worry she
says, because there are at least a hundred more where those came
from!  Good Luck, Gladys!

Look for Ryan talking up the project at the Knit Cafe on OMNI-TV sometime next week – I’ll post the details once I have them!

Keep knitting!