Every Monday and Wednesday they come together to work, talk and eat – but most importantly to give to those in need.
Common Threads is a group that began around five years ago at the Richmond Hill Public Library.
On Mondays, the group meets to make quilts, and on Wednesdays, the group meets to knit or crochet. The group meets from 10 a.m.-noon both days, and sometimes they will go out to lunch together afterward.
The group is made up of more than 40 people; however, around 10-15 people will meet each day.
“We cycle in and out depending on what’s going on in our lives,” said Pam Petermann, who’s been in the group for about a year. “It’s about lasting friendships with a common purpose.”
That common purpose is to help others in the community. The group often donates items they’ve made to charities, hospitals or others in need. They’ve made items for Memorial’s Children’s Hospital, the Special Olympics, the Lewis Cancer Center, local nursing homes, the NICUs for local hospitals and more.
“We share the compassion for those who have needs greater than ours,” said Kathlene Stapleton, who has been in the group since it first began.
The group makes everything from chemo hats, pillow pals, quilts, adult bibs, baby caps, teddy bears, sweaters, blankets, booties, dog beds and more.
“We use everything,” Stapleton said. “We take the scraps of fabric we have leftover to make the dog beds. We donate them to the animal shelters and humane society.”
Common Threads is made up of people from the community who each has their own stories. Different charities have special meaning to each individual – some who have fought cancer, some who are pet lovers, some who have had surgeries and some who have had children in need.
“Each charity has a meaning,” said Stapleton, who learned to knit and quilt because of the group. “Each person has had different circumstances and each charity has special meaning to each person in the group. We’re giving because we know somebody has a need in their family.”
The group has begun to make Matthew Bears, teddy bears made out of the uniforms of fallen soldiers. They use all pieces from the uniform including buttons and pockets to make bears for the soldier’s children.
They’ve also made tote bags out of sample books for Gabriel’s House, a temporary shelter for children, in order for the children to have something to carry their personal belongings in.
Although the group often makes items for charities, everyone is welcome to make pieces for themselves. The group also helps people learn how to quilt, knit or crochet. Everyone helps each other learn, and sometimes classes are offered as well.
“We’ve learned an awful lot from each other,” said Petermann, who has been quilting for eight years. “There are always things to learn.”
Common Threads is a group that exists on no budget. Members do not have to pay dues and there are no other costs involved. Because of the lack of funding, all materials and fabrics are donated.
“Memorial Hospital will donate fabric to us,” Stapleton explained. “Then we’ll use it to make blankets and other items to give to their patients. We just keep passing the love back and forth.”
Several members who cannot leave their homes due to caring for family members will create quilts or other items while at home and later donate them to the group to pass on to charities.