August 2010: Sewing For Charity

As much as I love to sew things for gifts to friends and family and sew items to sell for my sewing business, I guess there is no feeling better than sewing for those who are less fortunate. I joined a group of wonderful ladies about 4 years ago:  The Lone Star Smockers. This group of ladies gets together each month to show things they have made (Show & Share), teach other members hand stitches and techniques (not just smocking), and generally discuss what is going on in their lives. We really have 2 groups, but one non-profit organization. There are those of us who meet in the mornings and those who work outside the home and attend the night meetings. We meet each month and also have certain activities on the weekends where we all do projects together to raise money for our main function: Providing preemie gowns for local hospitals.

The Wee Care Project has become very popular among members of SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America). My chapter, The Lone Star Smockers, provides hand smocked and hand embroidered baby gowns for premature babies. It is a comfort for families who have these precious little ones hooked up to machines in NICU fighting for their lives. These baby gowns are small enough to fit these tiny babies so the tubes are somewhat covered. Unfortunately, some of these gowns become bereavement gowns. For the little ones who do not survive, they have something beautiful to be photographed and buried in. Here are some quotes from the SAGA brochure:

“Thank you so much for the beautiful gown that you donated…please know that your charity made us enjoy the minutes that we were able to hold our little boy.”

“During her first week in the NICU, my little girl was hooked up to so many machines that she didn’t look like a baby…it wasn’t until they put a little dress on her that I truly felt like I had a baby.”

“We would like to extend our sincere appreciation for the beautifully smocked gowns…we donated the first one to the family of a baby girl who did not survive…they had her picture taken in it, the only picture they will ever have of her. Thank you so much for helping to ease the pain for this young family.”

It is so heartbreaking what some families go through, and the knowledge that there are those in the community who care about their grief, is a great comfort at such a hard time in their lives. My family actually experienced this about 5 years ago. My niece was in her 8th month of pregnancy when she suddenly realized she hadn’t felt her baby move for hours. She had just been to the doctor the day before and everything was fine. She went back to her doctor’s office and they did an ultrasound and told her the baby had died and there was no heartbeat. After going through hours of labor, she delivered precious little Emily.  She looked like a perfect little doll. My niece and her husband were shown several little baby gowns that they could choose from to put on Emily. They dressed her, took turns holding her and taking photographs, and she was buried in this donated gown. I was so touched by this that I knew I had to be a part of the wonderful ladies who provided this service to our community.

We also sew pillowcases for Cooks Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. Each child that is admitted to the hospital is given a personal sized pillow that is theirs for the hospital stay and they take it home with them. Many volunteer organizations donate pillowcases to fit these pillows and each child gets to choose a pillowcase of their liking. They admit about 100 children per week to the hospital so that is a lot of pillowcases! We just concluded a “Pillowcase Workshop” and these will be taken to the hospital for children in North Texas to have for their hospital stay at Cooks.

We do several fundraisers to make money to buy fabric to make the gowns that we smock. The pillowcases are made from our own private “stashes” of fabric. The ladies I have been associated with are very smart talented ladies with generous and giving hearts. It has been my pleasure to be a part of this organization for the past few years. We have a workshop scheduled next month to make more gowns to donate to area hospitals. I hope that no one in my family is ever the recipient of one of these baby gowns again. One of my grandsons was taken to Cooks Children’s Hospital emergency room and spent several hours there being evaluated but everything turned out well. Many children are there going through cancer treatments, surgery, and terminal care. I am thankful for all my healthy great-nieces, great-nephews, and grandchildren. My heart goes out to those who are not as fortunate as me, and have children who need these medical services.  I am thankful there are organizations who are giving to others and help parents and children who are in need of some special human kindness.

Volunteering is very rewarding in many ways.  The one who volunteers is the real winner. Thanks for all those who give what they can, when they can. “Charity” means love, and there is no greater feeling than to be able to give. You never know when you may be the one who depends on another’s charity.  Acts 20:35 “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

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