'Stitchin' Chicks' make hobby of sewing for others

Many people are involved in the sewing circle at Park Plaza Retirement Center.

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Sewing for others can be part of a wonderful hobby. Quilts, blankets, Tooth Fairy pillows, stuffed animals and crocheted items all find their way into the hands that need to hold them.

Sewing has brought smiles to many in the community, according to the "Stitchin' Chicks," the sewing ladies at Park Plaza.

It is very much a community effort, with many people involved, according to Bettie Shute, Virginia Angus, Carlotta Schafer, Helen Buettner, Ruth Dean and Helen Kerr, integral participants in the operation.

In a little more than a year, a large number of items have been created and donated to organizations such as the YWCA, Christian Aid Center, Helpline, Catholic Charities and other groups.

The whole project got started in August 2008 with the creation of a sewing room upstairs at Park Plaza Retirement Residents. Many people simply love all types of needlecraft, so the creation of a craft/sewing room was a logical step.

Angus said the management of Park Plaza had graciously provided the basics of the sewing room. They got a space, lights, bookcases, iron and ironing board, tables and sewing machine. "Then we needed material," Angus said. "And it just flowed in here. We needed stuffing and we got that, too. The material just appeared in the sewing room and we want to put our thanks out there. We appreciate it."

They send "thank-you" notes to known individuals and organizations who donate. But for those that are anonymous, they want to express their gratitude. Shute said, "A lot of people have donated things and they never got the recognition because obviously we don't know who they are. But it is very appreciated."

According to Angus, the endeavor began with nothing, but just like a miracle it all came together. They have created almost 500 stuffed animals, cats, horses, frogs with multilayered eyes and more. These cute creatures are given to a variety of people, according to Angus, including cancer and dementia patients. The animals have found their way into the schools, often as rewards for special education students. Angus said she's seen joy on the faces of recipients as they clasped the stuffed animals to their hearts. Schafer said, "All types of people like them, especially the youngsters."

The ladies mentioned that giving is its own cycle that affects everyone. Materials are given, the items are created, then donated to others. If the items are sold, the proceeds go to purchasing more things needed to make more items to be donated. Angus said everyone is part of this: donating materials, the creative work, then donating the finished projects back into the community. Schafer said the special sewing room is open all the time for any of the residents to use -- it's not a sewing club, just a gathering of those who like to sew. "It's good to get the people out of their rooms." Angus agreed and added, "It feels good to do something worthwhile. We're not into selling, we're into giving. It's a nice group doing the sewing." She said a few have passed away but they have good memories of those friendships.

Schafer adds, "If volunteers want to come in to help us, that's OK." Shute adds that some of the details can be tedious work, "sewing on the tails and heads of the animals."

"If a mom and daughter came in the mom could teach her daughter about sewing. It's not steady, we do it when we want to, then we get overwhelmed then we stop for awhile."

They are in full swing now, getting ready for the annual craft bazaar. The shelves are full of little animals, quilts, blankets and crocheted novelties are all in stock.


The annual craft bazaar will be 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Nov. 14.

For more information call 509-525-6513.

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