The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
Apr3WedA Salvation Army church in Calgary is embracing its community. April 3, 2019 by Allison Patrick
This past Valentine’s Day, I headed down to our church to join a dedicated group of volunteers who were ready to serve on the streets of Calgary.
- Filed Under:
- Faith & Friends
Since Christmas, CommuKNITy Cares, a ministry operating out of The Salvation Army’s Glenmore Temple church in Calgary, has been busy making hand-knit scarves. That morning, we set out to give them to people experiencing homelessness in our community and, more importantly, to let them know they are loved and important.
The idea of handing out warm clothes to those in need is not new, nor is the idea of hanging hand-knit scarves on fences for anyone who might need one. It is one worth repeating, though.
Given the ever-growing needs in our city, the cooler temperatures and that we love to knit and crochet, CommuKNITy saw this as a perfect opportunity for our ministry. Our hope is that this project will not only provide warmth for those who take the scarves but will also open people’s eyes to the needs of others. We want to encourage everyone to use whatever resources or skills they have to do something to benefit others.
On the Fence
That morning, a Calgary police officer joined us, not because we needed protection but because of the work he had already done to establish relationships with so many of our homeless population. The rest of our team was made up of people who brought varied skills and life experiences to the day, all of which proved to be valuable as we served and supported one another.
It was an eye-opening morning for us as we discovered just how widespread the need was.
Our first stop brought us to a man who wasn’t living in a shelter but a tent he had made from a simple tarp. He had been living in that tent throughout the frigid temperatures.
The man welcomed us and told us about his home and how he tries to protect himself from the elements. He shared with us how he creates some income for himself by stripping wires to collect copper that can be turned in for cash. The freezing temperatures have made that difficult for him as his fingers can’t be exposed to the cold for long.
He smiled as we gave him the scarf and shared with us that our gesture had taken him full circle: in his past, he, too, had knitted scarves and handed them out to the less fortunate.
Our guide took us to other locations where we encountered more people. We visited a bottle depot, The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope, the Calgary drop-in centre and other places. At each stop, we engaged people in conversation and learned a little about their circumstances.
We handed out close to half of the 144 scarves we had made and then hung the remainder on fences around the city for anyone to take as needed.
Unity and Care
The true beauty of the morning wasn’t in the colourful display of scarves or the pretty tags hanging from each one. It was in the interactions we had. The homeless are people like you and me. While some are struggling with addictions, some have just hit hard times through circumstances such as job loss, relationship break-up or illness.
Our conversations helped to break down barriers, both ones we had set up due to our own prejudices and ones they had built up for their own protection.
“What I love best about CommuKNITy Cares is that they offer love and acceptance to everyone involved,” says Major Denise Walker, Glenmore Temple’s pastor. “There is a real sense of community among the knitters—young and old, experienced or learning—joined in a mission of love.
“To see our people head to the streets on one of the coldest days of the year—armed with friendship and warmth for those struggling against the cold—was a colourful expression of unity and care.
“That’s what The Salvation Army is all about.”
Knitted Together in Love
CommuKNITy Cares is an outreach ministry that shares God’s love for others by making hand-knit mittens, scarves, hats and blankets and giving them to those in need in the community. Fellowship is also shared with members of the community through free knitting classes and groups offered at The Salvation Army Glenmore Temple in Calgary.
For more information, visit commuknitycares.com.