The Powtown Post

Stories and photos from Powell River, BC.

Texada’s Tight-knit community keeps students warm this winter

Posted by on Dec 18, 2016

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The worst part about winter on the West Coast is getting your socks wet. The best part? When you take off your cold, soggy socks after a particularly damp day and change into warm, wool slippers.

Thanks to a kind group of knitters on Texada Island, school kids at the local elementary are keeping their feet warm this winter in newly-knit, wool slippers. So far, 15 hand-knit slippers have been made and donated to the school of just 26 students.

Residents on the island responded enthusiastically to a call put out by Texada Island Elementary school Principal Rhonda Gordon. Within just a few days, pairs of slippers began showing up at the elementary.

We’ve long had a rule about children wearing footwear in school, in case of the need to evacuate the building as we don’t want bare feet,” says Gordon.  

“The trouble is, not everyone brings indoor shoes to school and, especially during winter, we end up with days where numerous children have soggy runners, or leaky boots and wet socks.  It’s not a comfortable state for learning, that’s for sure.”

Students at choir practice enjoying their warm slippers. Photo credit: Rhonda Gordon.

Gordon got the idea after seeing a similar post at a local mainland elementary school thanking knitters for slipper donations. Within just a few days, individuals from across the island began dropping slippers off.

While Gordon greatly appreciates the gestures, she knows the students are even happier.

“I originally imagined them being worn occasionally, in a pinch, but now it seems everyone wants to kick off their rubber boots and slip into a pair of cozy slippers,” says Gordon.

“You know, hand-knit slippers are so homey— and they really say: ‘someone cares enough about us to make these for us by hand.’”

On a small island, it’s these kind of gestures that showcase the importance of close-knit community. Gordon is no stranger to Texada, having grown up on the island and now as principal of the only school.

“I feel really pleased and genuinely grateful,” says Gordon.  

“Things haven’t been going well for our community. With the main employer on the island having locked out workers and a lot of angst and anger and helplessness out there heading into Christmas; I felt like these slippers were a bit symbolic in a way. People appreciate the opportunity to feel they’ve made a positive difference.”

Texada Island Elementary School: “A Whale of a School.” Photo: Kamilah Charters-Gabanek.

“I do know that I’ll probably find myself washing a load of slippers every few days now— but it’s worth it.”

If you’re interested in knitting slippers for the school, or other schools in your area, you can contact Texada Island Elementary here.

Kamilah Charters-Gabanek

Kamilah Charters-Gabanek

Originally from Texada Island, Kamilah Charters-Gabanek moved to Vancouver in 2009 and now works in higher education. Her best summer job was riding the ferry between Comox and Powell River, letting tourists know the best places to experience on the Sunshine Coast.
Kamilah Charters-Gabanek

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