Babies and toddlers in Nunavut snuggle in quilts from Temple Israel

By Louise Rachlis for Temple Israel

For many years, the Temple Israel quilters have been making baby quilts and crocheted blankets for hospitals and daycare centres in Israel.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, few visitors are travelling to Israel so the quilts and blankets have piled up in the quilters’ workroom next to the Temple.

However, quilter Patsy Royer recently made contact with Sara Holzman, a Temple member who lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut to help get the quilts to babies in need.

“Most Canadians know that the families in the far north are large and growing larger – so many babies and toddlers – while the cost of suitable food and clothing for these little ones is enormous due to shipping being only by air,” says Royer.

Fortunately, she found out One Plane Away (OPA), an organization which distributes baby and toddler items to the outlying towns and settlements.

In Iqaluit, Holzman agreed to collect two duffle bags bursting with quilts from the airport and deliver them to OPA.

Very, very beautiful, and I know for a fact they will be cherished,” said Victoria Madsen of OPA, in a note to Patsy, after she had picked up the two duffle bags.

Pick-up day was “a terribly cold and windy day!” added Madsen. “We managed to get them transferred from her car to mine, while we simultaneously introduced ourselves to each other. We are in the dark months now so it is dark early afternoon. I want to paint a picture of the snow swirling about and us walking bent over against the wind with the two duffles full of treasures… The trunk of my car was frozen shut, so I had to wait. I retrieved them just now and opened them up!  How incredible your work is!”

OPA depends heavily on volunteers when sending duffle bags full of clothes and supplies to Nunavut communities. People travelling for work are asked to bring a duffle along, and then OPA makes arrangements for it to be picked up in the community and delivered to the mother and baby in need.

“We often pay for the bag as it is considered a second piece of luggage, so it is $36 per duffle,” explained Madsen. “We are very careful with our fundraising dollars, so if possible, we ask Canadian North to waive the fee. This is very personality dependent on the person at the check-in counter. I have asked for many grants to help with shipping, but unfortunately none of our proposals have been successful thus far. Shipping costs are the number 1 barrier to people receiving proper nutrition and clothing here in Nunavut… Its a wonderful feeling going to bed at night and knowing there are babies in Nunavut in a clean warm blanket, thanks to people like you.”

 “We will continue to send quilts and blankets to Iqaluit,” says Royer, and we are very grateful for the help we have received from Canadian North in Ottawa. A real mitzvah all around, thanks to Sara, Victoria and all of our quilters.”