Retiring school bus driver in N.B. makes giant quilt for beloved passengers
Published Friday, November 8, 2019 11:57PM AST
Last Updated Saturday, November 9, 2019 12:03AM AST
HALIFAX -- Patty Paddock started driving school buses in 1998 – delivering kids to and from three schools in Salisbury, New Brunswick. It’s a job she loves, and she’s been showing her love by handcrafting quilts and giving them to each graduating student on her route for years. Set to retire in December, she’ll be missed by her young passengers. However, before she passes in her keys, she's taking on the task of making on last quilt for all 65 students on her bus routes.
"It's a great job,” says Paddock. “It's given me so much joy. The kids are wonderful; they're just like my grandchildren – I love them just like they are my own."
Her kind and benevolent spirit hasn’t gone unnoticed in her community.
"Patty is generous in spirit,” says fabric shop owner, Jackie Spataro. “She's kind, thoughtful, and she adores her students – so it's just perfect."
Taking five hours to complete each quilt, Paddock makes her quilts using repurposed denim – turning old jeans into timeless keepsakes.
“So many of my friends have given me jeans,” says Paddock. “So that has not been a problem since they found out what I was doing.”
Spataro, whose shop Paddock often teaches crafting classes at, put out a call for quilters in the area to help finish Paddock’s ambitious project – resulting in immediate support.
"With quilters, everyone is going to be there,” says Spataro. “All you need to do is ask, and everyone is there for you – it's a wonderful community to be a part of."
Friends, old and new, showed up promptly to clip away at the unfinished quilts.
"What touched my heart is when she said that one kid said 'oh you're retiring and I won't have a quilt' because his sibling had one,” says Paddock’s friend, Josanne Cormier. “I said ‘I've got to give my time, I have to volunteer for that.’”
Initially intended to be a secret, the blankets are no doubt becoming a much talked about topic in the community, which Paddock hopes remains somewhat of a surprise.
"Parents, don't tell your children!" says Paddock.
Meanwhile, the tender-hearted bus driver’s last day behind the wheel will be December 20 – a day that will be filled with emotions and cozy comfort.