A seemingly small thing can have great impact.
“Everybody can do something,” Gwen Sykes can often be heard saying.
Since 2008, Sykes has been quietly crocheting scrubbies for a cause. She now makes hundreds in a month and gives them by the bagful to the Friends of the Dwight Library to raise funds for library materials and programs.
Sykes has produced more than 10,400 of the scrubbies to date, raising upwards of $10,000 for the library in the process—they once sold for a dollar apiece and are now $1.50.
She has also provided them to other organizations to use as fundraisers, including the Huntsville Hospital Auxiliary.
Sykes politely declined an interview with Huntsville Doppler—she doesn’t make these for the attention—but Cathy Fairbairn, CEO and Librarian of the Lake of Bays Township Public Library, which has branches in both Dwight and Baysville, was happy to share the impact Sykes’ kindness and dedication have had at the library, and to reiterate Sykes’ message: everyone can do something.
Gwen Sykes has been crocheting these scrubbies and donating them to the Dwight Public Library since 2008 (Photos courtesy of Dwight Public Library)
“Start with something you like to do, and find a way to do good with it,” says Fairbairn. “Look at how it adds up [over time].”
The funds raised by the scrubbies have been particularly helpful during COVID for take-home activity kits for kids, which the library continues to provide free-of-charge, she adds.
Sykes has developed a loyal following. When people see her at the library for the first time, they are delighted to meet her. Some buy her scrubbies by the bag—that’s 30 at a time—others even ask to have them shipped to their homes outside of Muskoka. They’ve gone off to universities and colleges with local students. She’s filled special orders for specific colours—a whole bag of hot pink once. They end up in Christmas stockings, and people use the green and red ones as ‘bows’ on Christmas presents.
When the library recently shared thanks for Sykes’ efforts on its social media channels, the response was immediate and unanimously grateful, with many saying how much they love using the scrubbies.
The scrubbies are available for purchase at the Dwight Library, 1014 Dwight Beach Rd., for $1.50 apiece.
The library remains open, with limited capacity for now, and continues to offer online programming.
Coming up for adults, in partnership with the other Muskoka libraries: a virtual author visit on Feb. 24 with Heather O’Neill, who will talk about her new book When We Lost Our Heads.
Activity kits and science bins, filled with books and activities, are available for kids, and there is a regular virtual storytime presented on Zoom. Join Miss Becca on Jan. 29 to find out: Do dinosaurs brush their teeth?
“We’re trying to find different ways to service the community when they can’t come inside for the programming,” says Fairbairn.
The library also continues to fundraise for its future expansion. “It’s been a long haul but the support from the community has been incredible, and clearly everybody believes that we do need more space,” says Fairbairn.
For more on library programs and services, visit lakeofbayslibrary.ca.
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