Every year, December meant the same thing for Alexa Myers: collecting donations for the shelter where she worked. It also meant the arrival of Mrs. Westover and her armfuls of scarfs, hats, mittens, blankets, and teddy bears. It was as though the woman sat down on December 26th and knit straight through until December 15th when she would come and drop them all off. So, now Alexa sat behind her desk in the donation center going through every item she’d already collected to catalog them while she waited for Mrs. Westover and her knit goods to arrive. Stretching, she stood to go check in the back to make sure her numbers were right. Had they really gotten 5 bicycles this year? She knew the bell would alert her if Mrs. Westover arrived.
Half an hour later, with dozens of counts checked and Alexa preparing to pack up for the night, she found herself wondering if everything was alright. The bell had never rung. Then she stepped back out into the lobby where her desk sat and was stunned. Every surface available was covered in bags of knitting. Relief brightened her features and she picked up one of the small bears, touching the little heart pattern stitched into one foot, just like every year. Picking up her phone, she called one of the volunteers.
“I need a hand down at the donation center. I don’t know how Mrs. Westover does this every year, but she did.”
The next day found Alexa working her way through the pile to get it all sorted and ready to go out to the shelter families. That was when the doorbell rang and a woman stepped inside, looking around curiously. She pulled a knit hat off and tucked it into a pocket before holding out a small bag of scarves.
“My mother made these and told me to make sure I dropped them off here. She made me promise before…” She paused then. “I know she said she usually dropped them off on the 15th, but I couldn’t make it and…”
Alexa looked at the woman and then down at the mittens in her own hands.
“I’m sorry, can I help you?”
The woman scrubbed at her face.
“I’m Marianne Westover. My mother used to knit for your shelter and I promised her I would bring the last of what she brought and…I have a donation for you too. I mean, I don’t know how to knit, but…”
Alexa wasn’t quite sure what she was hearing.
“I…I thought… We got a donation yesterday and I thought…”
Again, she held up the white mittens with the hearts stitched into the backs of the hands. Marianne looked at them, surprised.
“My mother passed away, just after Christmas last year. These scarves, they’re the last of what she made.”