A 90-year-old woman from Niverville, Man., donated ten handmade blankets to Siloam Mission this week, the latest batch she's made for the shelter over the years.
Helen Hiebert, a great-grandmother, said she's just trying to do her part to help others.
"What would you do if you were outside and without a blanket? I cannot imagine," said Hiebert.
Hiebert has been sewing for most of her life and started making blankets for Siloam a few years ago. She can't remember how many she has made, but that's not important, she said.
"The need is there, and it gives me something to do," she said.
Hiebert's daughter, Lynda Hiebert, says that normally a family member drops off the blankets. But this time, Lynda thought it might be nice for her mom to see where her blankets were going and maybe get a tour.
"It was pretty emotional. Seeing the need that is there and how many people the mission helps," said Lynda.
Helen said the visit was an eye-opener.
"They showed us what they are doing there ... how many people they feed. I forgot the number already but it was a lot. Some people stay there overnight, they don't have a place to live. [They] stay there overnight and go to work from there," she said.
After her visit, Siloam Mission posted a picture and a thank you message on their Facebook account. By Wednesday afternoon the post had been shared nearly 800 times.
"It's been 24 hours since I posted that on social media. We've had 125,000 people look at this post. That kind of outreach and awareness, and influence she could have, people look at that and go 'wow'," said Siloam spokesperson Al Foster.
Foster said that Helen included an extra bed sheet with each blanket.
"Helen said if people don't have a bed, they could put the sheet on the ground to sleep on," said Foster.
No plans to stop
Helen sews the blankets from bed sheets that her daughter gets from a thrift store.
Lynda was shopping at a Salvation Army store one day and came across three boxes of odd-sized blue bed sheets, $10 for a box of 24.
Lynda told the salesperson about Helen and how she was using them to make blankets for Siloam. The salesperson took a moment and then offered her all of the boxes for $10. What Lynda didn't know was that there were nine more boxes in the back.
"She looked at me and asked me, 'Do you have a big car?'" said Lynda.
So for the cost of one box, Lynda brought home a dozen boxes of blue bed sheets for her mom. That's 288 bed sheets.
It takes just over two sheets to make one blanket. Helen donated some of the sheets to her local thrift store in Niverville, and sold another box so that she could buy more batting. After all, she had a lot of blankets to make.
"People just need the blankets. It's something that's so desperately needed. If someone's sleeping under a bridge at night or in a bus shelter, being able to pull a blanket out of their bag means so much," said Foster.
So far Lynda estimates her mother has made between 15 and 20 blankets for the mission. And she has no plans of stopping.
Foster says so far all but one of the blankets that were brought in Tuesday have been handed out. He says that even though Helen does not want credit for her donation, her act may inspire others.
"This makes other people think of what they can do to help Siloam and other agencies," said Foster.
Helen says that all of the attention has been overwhelming.
"I don't want the credit," she said. "If that helps the mission then so be it."