In 2020, keen knitters Margaret Erickson, Jenny Bradford and Lyn Steel raised $1,400 for charity and this year they’re hoping to do more. Photos: Kerrie Brewer.

Knitting for a good cause, the residents of Kangara Waters Aged Care and Retirement Village are picking up their needles to help those in need.

When the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown isolated the residents of Kangara Waters from the outside world, they needed a distraction, so the close-knit trio of Lyn Steel, Margaret Erickson and Jenny Bradford challenged them.

The idea was to make 100 scarves to give to those less fortunate.

“People were just delighted to do something; it was a hard time. You know, one week they’re doing exercises, they’re doing activities and then nothing,” Ms Steel said.

Scarves, beanies and gloves are just some of the knitted items that will be available at the sale.

“This is what filled in their gap.”

Eager to meet the challenge, in three months, the residents made 150 scarves before moving on to knit beanies.

Overwhelmed with donations, the group decided to have a sale and donate all the proceeds to charity, as well as any knitted items left over.

In three hours, $1,400 was raised to be divided between The Early Morning Centre, Vinnies, and Children’s Ground in Alice Springs.

When Ms Erickson handed the Early Morning Centre $700, she said they were blown away.

“They said they didn’t expect us to raise money,” she said.

This year, Ms Steel, Ms Erickson and Ms Bradford are hoping to raise a little bit more, as new members of the community join in.

A range of local groups have been contributing to the Kangara Waters knitters, donating a range of items from scarves, TV socks, mittens, gloves, jumpers, wraps, fleecy rugs and more.

“Everywhere we went, people said ‘I want to help’,” Ms Steel said.

The Kangara Waters knitters also donate toys to the Canberra Hospital.

“We’ve got CWA (Country Women’s Association) in town doing gloves. My Mahjong group just arrive with bags of things … I just get astonished. One lady had a big, big bag, she came in like Santa Claus.

“You just open your door in the morning and there’s a bag of scarves there. You don’t know who they’re from,” she said.

“It’s amazing in 12 months what started as a simple challenge because people weren’t going out, what it’s turned into,” Ms Erickson said.

Along with knitting endless winter warmers, the knitting group are also donating wooden and knitted toys to the Canberra Hospital to give to children. 

“That happened when I formed the Just for Charity group,” Ms Bradford said.

“I went and did a bit of searching on the internet and got in touch with them [the Canberra Hospital] and that’s when they told me what they needed, things to give to the children when they undergo stress,” she said.

The Kangara Waters Winter Warmers Charity Sale will be held on Saturday 5 June, adjacent to the Birrigai Café located in the retirement village.

Ms Steel said to make the day extra special they will be ‘yarn bombing’ one of the trees near the café, wrapping it in knitting which will later be made into pet rugs for the RSPCA.

Ms Steel, Ms Erickson and Ms Bradford all agree that they just want to help people with their donations.

“There comes a time in your life when you don’t need stuff. It’s better to do something for someone else,” Ms Steel smiled.

Kangara Waters Winter Warmers Charity Sale, Saturday 5 June, 8:30AM-12:30PM, 2 Joy Cummings Place, Belconnen.

Lyn Steel, Jenny Bradford and Margaret Erickson will make their Winter Warmers Charity Sale extra special by ‘yarn bombing’ one of the trees near the café.

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