Written by on Thursday, February 26, 2015
Alfred Date, who's affectionately called 'Alfie' by friends and family, is a 109-year-old Australian man who says he remembers the days of the declaration of World War I and the sinking of the Titanic. As the oldest man in Australia, he's led a very long life, and now he's using his expertise to give back - to the penguins, that is.
Date is an expert knitter. In fact, he started knitting around 80 years ago when his sister-in-law requested he make a sweater for her baby son. Ever since that first sweater he made for his nephew, he's been knitting clothes for his seven children, 20 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. And just after he moved into nursing home care, two nurses approached him to use his skill to assist a local wildlife charity.
"I think I'd been in here about 12 hours, might have been 13," Date told 9Stories. "The two girls come in to me and say 'We believe you can knit'."
The Philip Island Penguin Foundation
Date says they told him about the Philip Island Penguin Foundation, a charity that had created the "Knits for Nature" program to save wild penguins from an oil spill. Little penguins, a species of penguin found in Australia and New Zealand, are very vulnerable to even small amounts of oil, which can cause their feathers to clump together and allow cold water to seep into their skin. The tiny sweater donations are used to keep the penguins rescued by the foundation from ingesting the oil, which is very toxic.
The foundation knew they were receiving help from the centenarian Australian man, but they didn't realize just how old he was at first.
"We knew he was over 100 years old, but had no idea he was declared the oldest person in Australia," one of the foundation's employees, Danene Jones, told 9Stories. "It's amazing and we feel quite privileged to have him dedicating his time and effort to the Penguin Foundation."
The man who can't say "no"
Date told 9Stories he "can't say 'no'" when someone asks something from him, which he says is a good way to live life and make friends.
While Date was simply using his beloved hobby to give back, seniors can learn from him that making an effort to say "yes" more often may end up providing you with fulfilling opportunities. Now that he's done knitting sweaters for little penguins, Date's back to knitting scarves for his friends.