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Winnipeg group thinking globally, acting locally: Grands ‘n’ More offer warm welcome to newcomers

Winnipeg Free Press, December 11, 2018, by Alana Trachenko

A Winnipeg group is putting its knitting needles to work for new Canadians.

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Grands ‘n’ More Winnipeg is providing handmade scarves to Welcome Place by donation. A child’s scarf is $5 and an adult’s is $10.

Grands ‘n’ More is an international organization with a Winnipeg chapter that supports grandmothers in Africa—the “unsung heroes” of their country, as their website puts it.

Since 2009, the group has been running a campaign called Warm Up Winnipeg, which is their way of thinking globally and acting locally, as organizer Jean Altemeyer said.

“As I began to learn about the African grandmothers and the situation facing them and went to various presentations and often the question was: ‘why are you spending time, energy and resources for people in Africa when we have difficulties here in Winnipeg?’” Altemeyer said.

To answer that question, the group knits scarves which are then given to Winnipeggers in need by donation. The money goes to Grands ‘n’ More and the handmade knitwear goes to someone who needs help keeping warm.

The scarves are going to Welcome Place, an organization that works with newcomers.

“Welcome Place recognizes all of the government sponsored refugees and also the recent asylum seekers, so they’re not all from Africa but many arrive underprepared for Winnipeg,” Altemeyer said.

“We have some very keen knitters… so we find ourselves with quite a large number of scarves and want them to be keeping people warm rather than taking up space on the floor. So the hope would be that we’re looking for people who would be wanting to provide a donation, so $5 donates a scarf to a child and $10 to an adult.”

Altemeyer says it’s a good gift idea, both for the recipient of the scarf and someone in your life who may not want material stuff.

“Let’s say you wanted to honour somebody in your list of people… so you could donate a scarf in their name and we would give you a card to give to them so they would know what you had done.”

She says the low overhead means that more of the money is going towards the charity.

“This project has very few expenses because people make the scarves out of the goodness of their hearts and people donate the scarves out of the goodness of their hearts,” Altemeyer said.

“We attach a tag and it says ‘to you,’ ‘from,’ and we put the first name of whoever the donor was… we’re trying to make it that much more personal.”

Email grandsnmore@gmail.com for info on how to donate or get involved.

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