Retired Ottawa teacher uses her sewing machine to support food banks

When an Ottawa teacher retired, her love and care for students didn’t stop.

Concerned about kids going hungry, she took to her sewing machine and crafted a solution by raising money for various food banks.

Lin Dickson loves to sew, and has a passion for helping people and children.

“I taught at a number of different schools, some in very challenging economic areas. You see so many things, you see families doing absolutely their best to survive, and I see that more and more,” she tells CTV News Ottawa.

Dickson decided to combine the two, turning a hobby into a way to help those in need.

“Loving teaching as I did, I wanted my students to have all of the advantages and I still do – and food is a big one.”

She creates aprons, tote bags, mitts from ‘bits’ of recycled and repurposed materials. Just prior to the pandemic, she began selling the items at craft markets and book clubs, donating the proceeds to various food banks in Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley,

“I taught children who were hungry, but I never taught them much because hungry kids – they can’t process what they’re hearing, they can’t absorb it, they can’t learn. And so, I decided that perhaps I could help the food banks, and put my hobby to good use,” Dickson says.

When the pandemic started, Dickson, like many people, spent a lot of time indoors, and turned that free time into inventory, ready to sell and raise money.

Dickson says she’s raised approximately $10,000 so far, which, when combined with the buying power food banks have, ends up being far more.

“So, for every dollar that’s donated to the Ottawa Food Bank, though our partnerships and bulk buying power, we’re able to make that, able to turn that into about $5 worth of food to the community,” says Tricia Johnson, Director of Development and Communications with the Ottawa Food Bank.

It’s also an inspiration to others.

“When people use their resources – whether it’s their time, their talent, their treasure, not just to give back community members in need, but to inspire others to join them in giving back, it really is very, very affecting,” Johnson says .

Janet Secord helps Dickson find materials.

“It’s been a tonne of fun to work with Lin through all of this; but, it’s also been really moving to see the responses of people when they discover that the entire cost of their purchase is going to the food bank.”

Dickson is selling her creations at various craft sales throughout Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley, and is planning to sell out of her home on Gilbert Avenue in Ottawa on Dec. 11 from 9 am to 1 pm

You can also contact Dickson at

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