Students in Dover Bay Secondary School’s knitting club recently donated handmade items to the 7-10 Club. Above, from left to right: Megha Chauhan; Gordon Fuller, Chair of the Board, 7 to 10 Club; William Sanderson; Alycia Patenaude; Shannon Busby, teacher; Hayley Farenholtz; and Katie Lundman. Busby started the knitting club as a community action project for an Anthropology of Homelessness class she took at VIU.


By contributor Marilyn Assaf.

“A small act of kindness when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world.”

Those words spoken by Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe resonated deeply with teacher Shannon Busby, and have now become the motto for a high school knitting club at Dover Bay Secondary in Nanaimo.

Five to 15 students gather every Monday during the lunch hour to knit colourful scarves, toques, and afghan blankets for those in need.

Busby was inspired to start the club “as a community action project” while taking an Anthropology of Homelessness class taught by professor Helene Demers at VIU.

 “Anthropology 316 opened my eyes about homelessness in our communities,” said Busby.

On Monday, January 19, Busby’s students donated two boxfuls of hand-knit creations to Gordon Fuller, Chair of the Board of Nanaimo’s 7-10 Club, which provides a hot breakfast and bagged lunch to an average of 250 people a week, including those who are homeless or living on fixed incomes.

“This is the first time we’ve received a donation from a student club,” said Fuller. “It will be nice to give away toques, scarves, and blankets that are unique and handmade. We appreciate the students’ efforts.”

Busby knew that a knitting club would provide some students with a place to be over the lunch hour and a purpose for being there. She also knew that students are more than willing to become involved in projects in which they can make a difference to others.

“Our core group meets each week. Some students come and go, and other students knit at home and drop off projects,” says Busby. “The feedback I’m getting is that knitting is meditative and relaxing, and helps some students deal with anxiety.”

“I’ve also had many adults show interest in the project,” adds Busby. “One of the school mothers donated a beautiful crocheted afghan to our club, and donations of yarn and knitting needles are coming in all the time.”

Students vary in their abilities to knit. However, many are learning a life skill and their enthusiasm for the project is growing.

“It’s a good hobby,” said grade nine student Megha Chauhan. “I feel proud of myself that I’m creating something special for someone.”

Student Alycia Patenaude joined the club to learn how to knit, adding, “It feels cool to help out the community.”

Demers is glad to see Busby’s community action project still going strong at Dover Bay.

“We have some very community-minded students at VIU,” Demers adds. “Students in Anthropology 316 engaged in a number of community action activities and projects this year, including the knitting club, a bottle drive for the Lake Cowichan Food Bank, a food and clothing donation drive for the Ladysmith Soup Kitchen, and assisting Social Planning Cowichan by collecting donations for their Day of Community Services during Homelessness Action week, among others.

“I’m pleased to say that although the course was taught in Duncan, many communities from Duncan to Nanaimo benefitted from the students’ civic engagement, which reflects the wide geographic area served by VIU.”