Friday, 12 February 2010

quid pro quo

My mother worked in the National Health Service. She worked in a hospital laundry, and high summer days nearly killed her. The temperature gauge would edge ever upward, and she would dread the afternoon. She would come home and drink pints of cold water to replace the hot sweat that poured, literally, from her, as she fed bedsheets into steaming presses.

She taught me that if you take something out, you give something back. This was the way of a community. This was how things worked. This is how life is.

The women at our local Toy Library volunteer far beyond their hours; they greet everyone with smiles, and there's no effort they won't go to if the toddler likes a playmat, if the baby wants bricks to bash, if the five year old needs something else to cling to.

They helped me something extraordinary, at one of the most trying times. I'm teaching the little grits that when we borrowed all the toys, walked up there and back again every Friday with purpose and focus and goal, then that was a service we used, time and time again, and it's a service we support, back again, when we can.

This year, while we can, we do this strange thing. We look through old clothes and trawl the £1 rail once a week for fabrics that we can cut up, reuse and recycle. We bring them home, and sew them into toy bags: bags that the Toy Library can use to carry and store toys, and bags that can be played with, as play items in their own right. Every other Friday, we drop off what we've made. You can see this record over here.

For once, I don't feel smug about this. I think it's just a way of saying thank you. And here we are, at our particular point in history, and I need to feel what a community is, once more. Because I also know how vulnerable they are, and how quickly they can disappear.


Sam said...

This is such a lovely idea, and the bags look great. I like the ones with dangly toys attached - my kids would have loved that :-)

sharon said...

How very clever of you. Loved them all, I was looking at a way of making little books or purses using old jeans pockets just the other day. Now I might have to actually do some.

Martyn Findley said...


Merry said...

Wow! Love those :) And... go you... blogger extraordinaire, rambler of fields, beater of words and lines of text into submission and a sewing person too!

Rachel M. said...

That's awesome Grit, glad you've found a way to give back.