Margaret Peters, 92, supports Thrive Thrift Shop with some mean accordion and quilt-making skills. The accordion she has used to entertain volunteers, while her quilts have raised more than $20,000 for the West End social enterprise to support programs in the community.
The nonagenarian says she would like to pass on her quilt-making skills because, "I'm not going to be here forever."
She also hopes her skills in new hands will continue to produce quilts in the West End for shoppers at Thrive Thrift Shop. The Spence Street thrift shop—a social enterprise of Thrive Community Support Circle (Thrive)—supports free community resource centre programming like counselling, emergency food, baby supplies and hygiene kits.
Kristy Muckosky, Thrive's director of organizational development and former thrift shop manager, says Margaret has made and donated over 1,500 quilts to support Thrive since 1996.
The well-made quilts, which sell for $15 to $25 for sizes ranging from crib to queen, are a "hot-ticket item" that sell out quickly, Muckosky says.
"We have people calling from all over Manitoba for them because someone in the family has had a baby or someone they know has experienced a house fire."
Muckosky says people can feel the love that goes into Peters' handmade quilts, which she calls lifelong gifts.
"She's very loving, and I think she knows that the quilts mean a lot to people...you know it was made with love."
Margaret says she makes about 60 quilts per year (her record was 78) though she has slowed down a little.
She's on the mend from a broken hip she suffered last November, but she's still sewing together quilt tops and bottoms in preparation for assembly, which she does in her apartment on a wooden frame that takes up almost the entire living room.
"I do an assembly line, as I say, I first do the quilts, top and bottom, and once I get them on the frame it will not take me a whole day to do one."
The retired nurse will layer in extra material with the filling to make the blankets extra warm. She says her Christian faith calls her to serve, and she is happy to be able to "bless people with warmth."
"I just do it to help people, and so many people have told me, 'well, you're keeping a lot of people warm,' and that is my pleasure to do that."
Muckosky says proceeds also help support a leadership development program at Thrive's volunteer-run thrift shop. Some of the shop's volunteers have physical or intellectual challenges, and the program helps them grow in areas they need help in.
Muckosky is also keeping an eye open for people who want to learn quilt-making from Margaret.
"I think it's a really beautiful skill set to have because you're learning this almost vintage-like construction that provides so much love and warmth to communities, families and people."
Muckosky says if anyone's interested in learning how to quilt from Margaret they can contact her at 204-783-9281.
Sean Ledwich, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leaf