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As she closed the cover, Susan Perry reached for another book for her reading buddy - a student at Parkside Elementary School.
"Let's read this book about winter," Perry said as she flipped through pages.
"I don't like winter," the student said.
"What? Why not? All kids like winter," Perry said, trying to be encouraging.
"I don't like winter because my hands are always cold. And..." she said, lifting her leg and marking a space around her ankle bone, "My snow pants are too short so this part of my leg is always cold."
While Perry wasn't sure she could do anything about the length of the girl's snow pants, she knew there was something else she could do – knit.
As a young girl, Perry said her parents instilled in her the importance of giving back to others.
"They were really wonderful. If mom heard of someone in a hard time, she'd be over at their house for a visit with something for them or help with their wash, their cooking... and dad, he was a carpenter. He, like mom, was always helping."
But it wasn't until after her parents died that Perry heard about all of the things her role models did for others.
Perry isn't a stranger to giving back and volunteering. As a teen, she would volunteer in the Prince County Hospital nursery and rock babies who needed soothing. In high school, she'd participate in a rock-and-knit-athon, making blankets for developing countries.
By the numbers:
How many pairs of mittens did the schools get this year?
Parkside Elementary School: 110
Athena Consolidated School: 100
Miscouche Consolidated School: 25
Amherst Cove: 30
"Mom always said, 'if you have a gift, you have to share it or else it's not a gift."
Perry's gift is knitting.
In recent years, Perry has used her gift to make hundreds of mittens for school kids and other people in need.
Until her recent retirement, she did this while working a full-time job as a phlebotomist (someone who draws blood). Her patients kept her stocked with wool, bringing her balls when they'd see her.
This year she's completed 375 pairs of mittens.
Last year, she knitted 200.
"I started making them a couple of years ago after chatting with a friend who's a kindergarten teacher here. She was saying the kids will forget their mitts or lose one or get one wet. So by keeping extra mitts around, if something happened, they could borrow a pair and return them and then they would be washed when needed."
But it wasn't enough just to donate to one class. Perry felt a calling to contribute more. Since starting, she has donated mittens to Elm Street, Athena Consolidated, Amherst Cove and Miscouche Consolidated.
"It's like that feeling on Christmas morning when someone likes your gift," she said with a smile.
For those interested in donating wool or yarn for Perry to use to make mittens, the drop-off is it at the main office of Parkside Elementary School. Visitors must use the visitor entrance.
She's also knitted other winter essentials like hats and scarves for her son to place around public spaces in Charlottetown for those who might not have a place to stay or otherwise need to keep warm.
Jett Doiron, 10, and Coby Maund, 11, two Grade 6 students at Parkside, were shocked by the number of pairs of mittens (110) Perry donated to the school this year.
"It's great she's done this to keep the kids warm and spend all this time doing it," said Jett.
While talking with the two boys, Perry asked if they had ever knitted before.
"Oh no, I wouldn't have a clue," said Coby.
"How long do you think it takes me to make a pair?" Perry asked Coby.
"Maybe an hour," he said, cautiously.
"More than an hour. About three for a pair of mitts," Perry said.
With that, Coby's eyes widened in shock.
"Wow! It's so nice for you to do this. It must be a lot of hard work," he said.
Nick Martin, the principal of Parkside, said staffers were amazed when Perry showed up at the school with her wheeled grocery bag and then pulled out the stash of mittens.
"We're very grateful... Every school has some kids who might not be fully outfitted for winter. But now they know they can come down here and find something to keep them warm."