Senior knits a thousand washcloths for a good cause

Mary Ann Nelligan has knitted over 1,000 wash cloths in the last two years. Once she’s made a certain amount, she sells them at the Tignish Co-op, with proceeds going to Father Roy Shea’s mission work in Brazil. She estimates she’s raised about $3,000 from the sale proceeds.    Jillian Trainor photo

Mary Ann Nelligan recently reached a milestone after knitting her 1,000th washcloth.

She’s been knitting washcloths for a long time, but she’s only started counting them within the last two years, after she started selling them.

“Usually when I have about 25 or 30 I’ll go to the Tignish Co-op and sell them,” explained the 81-year-old. “I usually sell them two for six dollars.”

Sometimes instead of buying washcloths, people will give donations instead. Proceeds go to Father Roy Shea, a priest from Tignish who now lives in Brazil, where he serves the poor of Agua Azul do Norte Para, a municipality in the northern part of the country.

Ms Nelligan, a resident at the Tignish Seniors Home, said she can sometimes make between two and a half to three washcloths a day if she’s at it a lot.

“It doesn’t take long to make one. It’s a great pastime in here, because there’s not much to do unless you’re playing games in the morning, or go to church,” she said. “When I’m watching TV I might as well be doing something with my hands.”

She estimates she’s raised $3,000 so far, but that number could be higher, as her children will sometimes put their pocket change into the can she uses to collect money from the sale of the washcloths.

Once she has enough washcloths, she gives the money to June Gaudet, who then uses the proceeds to buy and mail over things that are needed for the people of Agua Azul.

When asked how long she planned on knitting the washcloths, Ms Nelligan said she supposes she’ll probably be doing them until she’s 100. She added that she’s noticed something interesting about how she knits.

“I realized after awhile I knitted all these dishcloths with my right hand, and I’m left-handed,” she said with a laugh. “I can’t figure that out.”

To thank her, Father Shea sent Ms Nelligan, a letter, something she plans on reading to her family at some point during the holidays.

Ms Nelligan said she enjoys knitting the washcloths because she knows the proceeds are going to a good cause, and will help those in need.

“It feels great, because I know I can help Father Roy Shea and all the people around, especially around Christmas,” she concluded. “They send them candy, and they send them a lot of clothes, bedding even, and it helps them a lot.”

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