By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
The Blankets for Canada Society recently marked a significant milestone as it celebrated its 25th anniversary on October 26th.
The event took place at Southminster United Church in Lethbridge, on Oct. 26. In attendance were members of various “Blankets for Canada” chapters, alongside the society’s visionary founder, Nancy Panting.
Established in 1998, Blankets for Canada started as a humble initiative with a mission to provide handmade blankets to those in need. Panting laid the groundwork for the society, after returning from a visit to the U.S. where she participated in the “Warm up America” initiative, which is based on the principle of making and donating knit and crocheted blankets to those in need through collaboration. Upon returning to Lethbridge and discovering no such society existed here, Panting got to work.
In its inaugural year, the society aimed to create 100 blankets by the end of 1998. However, their dedication and hard work exceeded expectations, resulting in the completion of over 200 hand-knit and crocheted blankets.
In 1998, Blankets for Canada was granted society standing, and charity status in 1999. This status solidified the organization’s ability to receive support from individuals and businesses who provide the necessary materials for the blanket-making process. Operations are covered by cash and material donations. Supporters are also able to purchase an annual $20 membership which allows the society to issue tax receipts for cash and yarn donations.
According to the society’s website, from 1999 to 2000, volunteers collectively dedicated over 36,000 hours to knitting, crocheting, and sewing blankets together across various chapters. Fast forward to the present day, and the society now records upwards of 20,000 volunteer hours every month. These dedicated volunteers continue to contribute their time and skills to create comforting blankets for those in need.
Once complete, a tag is sewn onto each blanket, which proudly reads “Compliments of Blankets for Canada, Not for Sale.” This practice ensures that all blankets remain within Canada and continue to serve the local community.
The Blankets for Canada Society’s 25th anniversary is a testament to the impact volunteers can make when they unite for a common cause.
Each year, Blankets for Canada collectively produces around 8,000 blankets on average. Nationwide since 1998, they have made and distributed over 110,000 blankets across Canada, which works out to nearly six million 8”x8” hand woven squares, with every last stitch made by a committed volunteer.
During the 25th anniversary celebration, Panting said, “Blankets for Canada is an organization that has taken on a mind of its own,” and said of volunteers, “it’s something that we do because we enjoy doing it and we have fun. We have one rule that there is absolutely no give on, and that is, ‘we don’t make mistakes, we make originals’.”
Over the years, dozens of people have reached out and expressed their gratitude for the blankets. Nancy shared one particular moment where a man living with substance use disorder had received a blanket and stopped by the Lethbridge chapter to say thank you
“He said, the blanket was given to him when he graduated (from a treatment program), and he said the only thing that keeps me sober, is the love that went into making this blanket.”
As the organization looks towards the future, it remains committed to its mission of providing handmade blankets as a symbol of care and support for individuals facing challenging circumstances, as long as there is a need.
“It’s rather humbling; to realize something that we like to do just for fun meant so much to someone else, and would help them with their life to go forward. I don’t know any greater satisfaction that we can have in life.”
For more information, visit “Blankets for Canada” on Facebook, or https://blankets4canada.ca/.