Winter program at Powassan library helping families in need

People likely won't see or know who the recipients are, but a program at the Powassan and District Union Public Library continues to help those in need.

Since 2018 the library has been running the Warming Powassan program where mittens, scarves and toques in plastic bags hang outside the library on a small wooden fence.

Library CEO Marie Rosset says the winter protection items are free. Rosset credits Powassan resident Darryl Stevens with creating the program.

Stevens now attends high school in North Bay and it's while he was a pre-teen student at Mapleridge Public School in Powassan that he came up with the Warming Powassan idea.

“Darryl would come to our computer hours program and one day told one of our employees it would be nice if we could get mittens and hats for people who didn't have any,” recalled Rosset.

The employee Stevens talked to was Sandy Rumford who is now retired.

“Sandy gave him the project to pursue and Darryl next talked to the Powassan Knitters who met downstairs at the library every Friday,” Rosset said. “He asked if they would be willing to knit some winter items like scarves and mittens and they agreed.

“Sandy was a knitter herself and she knitted quite a few of the items as did other members of the group.”

Additionally, unless the knitters were working from wool donated to the library, they normally paid for their own fabric and donated the finished pieces to the Warming Powassan program. The arrival of COVID stopped the group from meeting which meant the list of contributors fell. However Rosset says that didn't stop the program from continuing.

In addition to the few Powassan Knitters who were still able to contribute, the thrift store known as Grace House which operates next door to the library at 250 Clark, took over the program. The shop sells gently-used clothing for adults, teens and children.

Rosset said the small store “had an over abundance of mitts and hats and gave them of us”.

So far Grace House has given the library three large boxes this year each with about 30 scarves, toques and mittens.

“This has been a nice way to recirculate hats and mittens and get them to someone who needs them,” Rosset said.

As the items continue to arrive from Grace House, either the library staff or students will bag them to protect them from the weather and hang them on the wooden fence.

“We've put out quite a few this winter,” Rosset said.

Rosset knows the winter items are finding new homes because when staff return for work the next day the fence has a few less mittens, toques or hats as a result of people discreetly removing them during the darkness.

Rosset says Warming Powassan usually starts up near the end of December once the cold weather arrives and remains until temperatures start warming up during spring.

The library promotes the program through its Facebook page and newsletter.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget