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Shelburne knitting group celebrates Canada 150 with colourful display of lifesaving pneumonia vests

The Shelburne library knitting group with some of the 150 pneumonia vests knitted by Mona Foged, centre standing.
The Shelburne library knitting group with some of the 150 pneumonia vests knitted by Mona Foged, centre standing.

SHELBURNE, N.S. – In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, Mona Foged has knitted150 colourful, lifesaving pneumonia vests.  

The vests save young lives in developing countries around the globe and are display at McKay Memorial Library in Shelburne until July 14.

Inspired by fellow knitter Sandie MacKenzie, Foged, a member of the Shelburne library knitting group, completed the vests that are designed to help fight and reduce respiratory illnesses in children.

Sandie MacKenzie holds the photo of a child wearing a vest and a care worker in Peru holding MacKenzie’s hand-written note in case something happens to the shipment.

“Every one of these vests saves a life,” MacKenzie says.

MacKenzie learned about knitting the vests through the Anglican Church Women of Nova Scotia.

“We started knitting just with our small group,” she says.

She has been knitting vests for over 10 years, and volunteers in the community have knit 2,040 vests for overseas.

MacKenzie encouraged others who enjoy the craft to take up knitting the vests, and that is how Mona Foged became involved.

“I started knitting them in February,” Foged says of the vests.

From right, Mona Foged, Sue Sinden, Marian Boudreau, Victoria Healy, and Sandy Taylor

All of the yarn for the project was donated by members of the Shelburne library knitting group and the community, Foged says. She says it takes two-and-a-half to four hours to complete a vest, depending on the pattern and the person doing the knitting.

Serving a dual purpose, the vests are used as packing material around food shipments from Canadian Food for Children to nations such as El Salvador, Ghana and Sierra Leone.


The knitting group is a perfect example of a library-community partnership says Western Counties Regional Library Deputy Director Joanne Head.

“It is a perfect partnership because it is grassroots,” she says. “It started as a program and grew from there.”

You don’t need a library card to join the knitting group or to contribute to the cause, adds Shelburne library clerk Suzanne Grear. 

She believes partnerships with organizations such as the knitting group are very important.

“They’ve done beautiful displays for us,” she says, adding that they are open to everyone.

Foged says the group continues to thrive because of its partnership with the library. 

She says the library is the ideal meeting place with its open environment, wonderful surroundings, daytime availability, access to materials, and no fee for the space used by the group.

“It’s very welcoming,” Foged says.

In return, the group takes a voluntary collection at each meeting and has bought items for the library, including a laptop, paper shredder, Blu-ray player and cooling fans.

 “The knitting group is terrific,” says Head. “It’s been a win-win.”

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