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Blankets for Canada needs 
Community assistance

Posted on December 14, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nancy Wade Panting, founder of Blankets for Canada, says that Blankets for Canada is currently in need of batting for their blankets as well as a single floor building because where they are right now, there are a lot of steps and the ladies that are carrying bags up and down those steps are in their 80’s.

“We make blankets for any organization that takes care of people in need of shelter and warmth and our street people, and everything comes in free and goes out free,” said Panting. 

Founded in 1998, Panting says that Blankets for Canada is now 25 years old and supported by the generosity of the community, whether it be through cash or yarn and material so they can pay rent, insurance and registration fees to keep their status as a charitable organization, and pay for their materials. 

The organization, Panting says, is a national one and there are two main chapters in Alberta, Edmonton and Lethbridge, with Lethbridge overseeing all members in Calgary and south of Calgary and Edmonton overseeing all members in Calgary North and north of Calgary. Lethbridge, Panting says, is the current home of Blankets for Canada’s main office.

“We don’t give to people on the streets directly,” said Panting. “We give to the organization because if you are hungry, if you’re cold, you’ve got other needs and the other organizations are there to fulfill those needs. And so we just support them. In Calgary, we’ve given to The Mustard Seed, we’ve given to the Drop-in shelter there. Here in Lethbridge, they go to Streets Alive, to the women’s shelter, the youth shelter, the Crazy Indian Brothehood, White Feather. There’s 63 organizations. We give out 1200 blankets a year.”

Panting says that some people involved in the organization pay a membership fee of $20, and not everyone chooses to do that, but they still choose to make blankets for the cause. 

“We may have a little lady that makes one square every six months,” said Panting. “We have groups that send in squares from nursing homes. We have individuals that drop ‘em off. We just don’t know. We’ll get some in from a condo and this is from the ladies in their condo, and we don’t know how many people are working on that. We do work at home at our own pace, and some people make squares. Some people make strips, some people make full blankets, and some people just assemble the squares into blankets. So there’s something for everybody.”

Panting says that because the organization is very loosely set up, it doesn’t have the money to pay someone, but they fought hard to become a registered charity organization. 

“We are the only organization of our kind,” said Panting. “And when it came down to registering, they didn’t know what to do with us. They eventually told me that it looked like I was going to have to do what the Red Cross did and go before Parliament. And I laughed hysterically, and I said, ‘You’re gonna let this American go before Parliament? I don’t think so.’ And so working with Rick Casson, who was our member of Parliament, his office was great in helping us and went in one day and his secretary, Gloria Moore, wanted to know how things were going. And I said, ‘we’re just at a standstill. I said, everybody I talk to, I get different answers.’ And she said, ‘hold on a minute.’ And she called Rick, who was in Ottawa at the time, and she says, ‘can you go down and talk to someone and get us a name?’ And he went down and got us a name of a person to talk to. And I sent a large packet of every newspaper article and letters from churches and government people in support of it. And our mayor at the time told me that to get a registered charity takes years. And all of a sudden, one day at the mailbox, there was this government envelope. And I made the girl open it because I was shaken too bad to open it. And she said, ‘you’ve got it.’ And so I never looked at it, brought it home, and she made me several copies of it and I opened it with my husband. And we went to the mayor and we told him we’ve got a meeting in November, and I need you there. And I said, ‘we have our charter and we are registered.’ And I said, ‘you’ll get your copy of it, you know, the day that’s there because it’s not going outta my hands.’ And he came and he stood there and we, at that time, we met in Village Center Mall, and he looked at the group of people that were there, and he said, ‘it takes a long time to get to be a registered charity, but you’ve done it in a matter of months; here’s your papers.’ And the whole place just exploded. And people came from all over the mall to find out what was going on. Blankets has a mind of its own, and it just grows.”

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