Alfred “Alfie” Date, Australia’s oldest living man, is putting his amazingly sharp mind and nimble hands to good use.
The 109-year-old likes to spend his free time knitting little sweaters for injured penguins from his room at a retirement home New South Wales, reports 9Stories.
Alfie picked up the hobby over 80 years, when his sister-in-law handed him a pair of needles and some wool and asked the man to knit a jumper for her baby boy.
That baby boy grew out of the jumper decades ago, but Alfie has continued to knit. The great-great-grandfather enjoys taking requests, so when two nurses asked in March if he wanted to knit sweaters for needy penguins, Alfie started stitching.
His creations were donated to Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin Foundation to help little penguins affected by an oil spill. Little penguins are a rare species only found in Australia and New Zealand, with just 32,000 living on Phillip Island.
Oil from the spill caused the penguins’ feathers to stick together, allowing cold water to reach their skin. Sweaters from generous knitters like Alfie helped the birds stay warm while they waited to be cleaned up. The garments also prevented the penguins from picking at their feathers and accidentally consuming the toxic oil.
Thanks to Alfie and thousands of other knitters from around the world, Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin Foundation was overwhelmed with cozy jumpers, which allowed the foundation to fully rehabilitate many of the birds.
With this good deed done, Alfie now keeps his hands busy by knitting scarves for friends and hats for premature babies.
“It’s a good way of getting along in life,” Alfie said about his hobby. “You make friends all the time, but you don’t make a fool of yourself either.”