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Sewing siblings: Calgary family in stitches for city charities

Amateur sewing enthusiasts Rose Sortland, 14, and Louis Sortland, 8, have funnelled their efforts into helping other Calgary kids in need.

What started as a thrifty idea for a birthday gift has graduated into a crafty act of charity by the brother-sister duo.

“It’s been really fun watching them do all this,” said Melanie Sortland, Rose and Louis’s mom.

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Since learning to sew scrunchies over the summer to give items as birthday gifts, the kids have raised more than $1,500 for The Alberta Children’s Hospital and EducationMatters, a non-profit organization that offers school supplies and financial resources to school children in need. 

“They basically did it all on their own,” said Melanie.

After learning to sew as a hobby, the children decided to create a website to sell their scrunchies and donate all the money they raise.

“It was just something we were doing for fun. But, then we had all these scrunchies lying around and we didn’t know what to do with them,” Rose said.

The kids’ decision to sew for charity was inspired by their mom Melanie. She works for The Children’s Hospital Foundation and sits on the board for EducationMatters. 

“It was easy,” said Louis.

The kids have also learned to make face masks, tote bags and gift bags, most of which they sew together.

“The masks are pretty much all me, but with everything else we each have a job,” said Rose.

Young Entrepreneurs

Rose and Louis raised more than $500 for The Alberta Children’s Hospital in September, and have raised $800 for EducationMatters since October.

“Their work ethic and entrepreneurship is just so amazing to see,” said Helen Nowlan-Walls, with EducationMatters.

“It’s tough being younger and feeling like you have no agency or ability to shape the world around you. Efforts like those of Rose and Louis are so impactful.”

Much of the project can be attributed to the kids’ grandmother. She taught them to sew and supplied them with all the fabric and sewing supplies they use.

“She’s the sew-er of the family, she taught them everything they know,” said Melanie.

Since their grandmother supplies the fabric, the kids are able to donate 100 per cent of their profits to charity.

“It’s been a great experience for them. They learned to sew, build a website, took the photos for the website, Rose even answers emails to people,” said Melanie. 

“They’re already learning about customer service, which is so valuable,” she said.

Once their campaign with EducationMatters wraps up, the kids will be pressing pause on their efforts until the spring.

“The kids need a break. They’ve sewn so much since the summer, and they’ve done such a great job,” said Melanie.

“But Louie wants to look into working with the Calgary Food Bank in the spring.”

Visit their website to purchase a scrunchie, mask or tote bag. All proceeds are donated to EducationMatters.