A Canadian community is drawing together around a local resident. Bob Rutherford is 88, and that means he has plenty of time to think of ways to help out his community. This life-long tinkerer invented a unique knitting machine that he uses to create socks for homeless shelters.
In 2010, Rutherford lost his wife of many years. He felt hopeless and alone and didn’t know what to do with himself. His son suggested he help himself by helping others. That was all the motivation Rutherford needed to start contributing to his community.
Socks are a small thing, but they can make all the difference to the homeless Canadians they reach. Shelters always need more pairs. Spending nights outside during the winter cold is a reality for the homeless, and multiple layers of socks can help them get through the night.
Rutherford’s knitting machines are put to work every week, when he gathers neighborhood friends to work on the project together. Glynn Sully, at 92, is the oldest. George Slater is around Rutherford’s age at 85, and Barney Sullivan just recently retired. All four of the men keep the machines running and cut the finished product into socks. They made over 2,000 pairs in 2016.
Even the wool is a community effort. Local business Custom Woolen Mills donates the materials to make the socks.
The machines are an interesting combination of materials Rutherford has collected over the years. Their design won’t be scooped up by outside companies any time soon, but that doesn’t bother Rutherford. He’s not looking to win any awards or money. He’s looking for a new sense of purpose, and he’s found that with his sock-making scheme.