By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A local heating company learned there is more than one way to heat a home or a heart this season. Quinn’s Plumbing and Heating has teamed up with the residents of Heritage Lodge to make handmade blankets available to those in need. The 30 blankets will be distributed through the Midstream Support Society and Alexander First Nation.
Owner Tim Quinn said Mary Benson, Heritage Lodge’s program coordinator, approached him for support to buy the materials. Quinn donated $500 to the cause, an amount that was matched by an Edmonton fabric store, the combined generosity providing the seniors with enough material to make and donate two-and-a-half dozen blankets.
The decision to help was an easy one for Quinn and his family. “The idea of a heating company and blankets seemed like a natural tie in,” Quinn said. “There’s more than one way to heat a home or heat a heart. That seemed like a natural tie in.”
Groups looking for assistance often call upon Quinn’s company, and while he finds merit in what the groups approaching him are involved in, it is impossible to support them all. The seniors at Heritage Lodge were a group the family wanted to support. “The residents had been doing some blankets and taking them to craft fairs,” Quinn said. “They enjoyed the making of them. They didn’t enjoy the whole selling of them. They asked me if I would sponsor the program, and I thought that would be kind of cool to do because we have been trying to get more involved in some of the community groups.”
After making the commitment to help the charitable cause, the cause became all the more important to the Quinn family. The recent passing of Quinn’s father-in-law, Bernie Westover, and his own mother, Eva Quinn, prompted the family to make the contribution ongoing.
“What I’ve decided to do is we’ll make this an annual contribution in memory of them,” Quinn said. “That’s what I want to do with this. We’ll continue to work with the lodge to put out blankets or if they come out with a different plan.”
Important lodge program
Heritage Lodge Program Coordinator Mary Benson said the blanket program was started in May as a way to keep the seniors active and to get them together socially.
“What we’ve seen happen with the blankets and the activities is the family support,” Benson said. “It seemed like with every blanket being made and being sold there were stories that were coming out of it. It was really good that way.”
This fall it was decided if a company would support the program, the seniors could make blankets for others beside family and friends. The seniors decided to turn their work into a Christmas charity for those in need in the community. “Our blankets give you a sense of security because it is not always a happy time for everybody,” Benson said, adding she was pleased to have the support of Quinn’s Plumbing and Heating and Marshall Discount Fabric in Edmonton. “We ended up with enough blankets for these families in our community.”
Benson said more than 50 per cent of residents participated in the activity. Even those with dexterity issues or dementia made a contribution, the latter patiently reminded each day by other seniors how to do some of the blanket-making tasks. The work continued almost non stop with some residents working on blankets late into the night when they couldn’t sleep.
The lodge and the Quinn family see the program as beneficial to the residents and the broader community. “These seniors that are living in our lodges already built our community,” Benson said. “We are still here and we want to give something back.”