Reduce, reuse, rewarm

Sherwood Park resident and Blankets for Canada member Lorraine Kapko is reducing landfill waste by reusing all kinds of fabric to make blankets for Edmonton's homeless. Lindsay Morey/News Staff

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Even though her 45-year-old Singer sewing machine no longer functions in reverse and random bits of fabric continues to pile up on her living room floor, one Sherwood Park woman can’t shake the urge to help others.

Park resident Lorraine Kapko is killing two birds with one stone; doing her part to reduce waste in landfills, while keeping the homeless on Edmonton streets warm. For the past decade, she’s been crocheting squares and sewing blankets with the Community of Christ Church’s Blankets for Canada chapter. The non-profit non-denominational organization is devoted to making blankets to provide warmth for Canadians in need.

Since retiring in 2014 from an office job, you can either find Kapko cutting fabric squares, along side her sewing machine or with a set of knitting needles in her hands. As word spread with her family, friends, and acquaintances, donated material began to flood her house to be used for the cause; bags of yarn, bolts of leftover fabric from past projects, sheets, curtains, dressmaker scrap material, and old jeans. She jokes that the colours don’t have to match, the goal is to keep those on the street warm.

“I can’t believe how much it has snowballed, it’s unbelievable,” said Kapko. “I’m hooked.”

The local Blankets for Canada group produces hundreds of blankets every year. Meeting on the second and fourth Saturday of every month, members can batch tasks like cutting material or sewing. Kapko recently completed 16 blankets by herself.

“I want to help somebody. I know if I didn’t do this, somebody else likely would, but I just want to give people an idea how to keep things out of the landfill and help other people,” she noted.

She was reminded about the importance of reducing clothing and fabric waste from an on-going Strathcona County advertisement on the benefits of donating textiles to local non-profit thrift stores instead of tossing them in the garbage. County Clothes-line, Salvation Army Thrift Store and Goodwill are some destination examples of where to donate items.

“I just like to keep busy and I want to let other people know what they can do with leftover material or old clothes,” added Kapko.