The “Bag Ladies” are back.
The group of local senior women known as My Brother's Keeper wants to get the word out that after a two-plus-year hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are finally back to serving the community by providing hand-crafted bedrolls for the homeless.
According to group founder Jackie Taylor, My Brother’s Keeper is a group of approximately 20 Airdrie women. Formed in 1994, their aim is to help provide warmth to those experiencing homelessness. To do so, the women collect blankets, comforters, and quilts from the public, and then hand-stitch the items into a sleeping bag-shaped bedroll.
”We assemble these bedrolls and then give them to different organization who are helping people who are compromised,” explained Taylor, adding those organizations include the Calgary Mustard Seed, the Salvation Army, Calgary Drop-In Centre, and Community Links.
Known informally as the Bag Ladies, the group of seniors assembles the bedrolls every Wednesday morning from 9 a.m. to noon at the Christian Education building, located on the same lot as the Airdrie United Church on First Avenue NE.
They get a lot accomplished during those three hours, but Taylor said the social aspect is an important aspect of the gatherings, with coffee, snacks, and plenty of chatting.
“We love to gather together as a group because it brings community to people of the same interests,” said Taylor. She noted the group's members range in age from their 60s to mid-90s. "We have one lady who is 96 years old,” she said.
While the group had to halt their weekly meetings in mid-March 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor said the ladies have recently started meeting again. She hopes some publicity will generate some more donated materials so they can continue to make their bedrolls for the homeless.
“Now we’re just starting up again and would love our supply of those blankets, comforters, and quilts,” she said. “People are very good – they’ve kept our phone number. We used to advertise in Here’s the Scoop, with a phone number people can call us to donate, so we have a great following.”
Those interested in donating to My Brother's Keeper can call Taylor at 403-948-6468 or drop by the Christian Education building on Wednesday mornings.