'Granny gang' aims to sell more than $20,000 in fabric during upcoming sale
Published on: April 14, 2017 | Last Updated: April 14, 2017 4:45 PM MDT
Grandmothers of Alberta for a New Generation members Louise Barr (left) and Colleen Kennedy fold fabric for a sale on April 22. Proceeds go towards charitable programs for grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa. GREG SOUTHAM / POSTMEDIA
In a church basement in southeast Edmonton, dozens of grandmothers fold fabric, sort scarves and untangle yarn.
But this is no knitting circle — the group has raised more than $1 million for charity over the last decade. An upcoming fabric sale on April 22 is estimated to bring in more than $20,000.
“We’re a granny gang,” said Louise Barr, spokeswoman for Grandmothers of Alberta for a New Generation (GANG). “We’re a very creative bunch of women.”
Proceeds from the sale will go to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign run by the Stephen Lewis Foundation. The funds are distributed to community-based groups in sub-Saharan Africa that support grandmothers who are charged with supporting young children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“There are now 240 grandmother groups across Canada who are doing what we’re doing, raising funds and awareness for these African grandmothers. As Stephen Lewis would say, they are the unsung heroes,” Barr said, noting that in 2010 she travelled to Swaziland with the project. “(What we raise) is only a drop in the bucket as to what these grandmothers in Africa need.”
Colleen Kennedy folds fabric for an upcoming fabric sale on April 22. GREG SOUTHAM / POSTMEDIA
The Edmonton group is comprised of women seniors — the oldest member is 95. “We’re not just grandmothers, but also grand-others, because there are lots of women in our group who don’t have children,” Barr said.
The fabric sale, now in its fifth year, has taken months of preparation. The group spends four hours per week sorting through fabric donations.
“It is a frenzy,” Barr said. “We will have 500 people who come through the door.”
The event will also include the sale of silk scarves, which the group began making from donated fabric two years ago. Scarf sales have brought in $25,000.
“We’ve done a cookbook that has been very successful, we’ve done fashion shows,” Barr said.
On April 22, most fabrics will be sold for one dollar per metre. Quilting fabric will cost five dollars per metre.
“To buy (quilting) fabric in a store, you’re looking at $20 a metre,” said Ev Carter, a member of GANG. “I make quilts for gifts … the sale offers really good buys.”
She said she’s looking for something special this year.
“Sometimes you just see a piece of fabric that inspires you and you’ll build off of that.”
The fabric sale will take place at Strathearn United Church at 8510 95 Ave. on April 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.