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Sew Crazy members use time, talents for good cause

Deborah Peterson • Dec 30, 2019 at 10:42 AM

If you enjoy sewing, helping local charities and meeting with friends, then Sew Crazy is just the fit for you! Whether you are an accomplished seamstress or a beginner, there are many fun opportunities to serve your community alongside this dedicated group of sewing enthusiasts from throughout the Tri-Cities area.

Sew Crazy was founded in 2010 by Donna Horowitz of Johnson City. A professional seamstress, Donna decided to use her skills to sew for people in need. Enlisting the help of friends and fellow sewers, she started Sew Crazy which has grown into a strong nonprofit organization of 25 sewers and many other volunteers. Since 2013, over 10,000 volunteer hours have been contributed by members, 31 local organizations supported, and 4,500 people served.

President Susan Kubenka of Boones Creek said the purpose of Sew Crazy is to bring people who sew together as an outreach to the community.

“It’s a way to give back and also a creative outlet, knowing that you’re using your talent and time to do something that is helping somebody,” she said. Susan especially enjoys delivering Christmas stockings to local nursing homes and homeless shelters. “When making deliveries, you can actually meet the recipients, who really appreciate it,” she said. Donna agreed the most satisfying part of Sew Crazy is meeting the people who receive the items. “Just the reward that you get and gratification from those recipients is what makes it worthwhile,” Donna said.

Since it began, the group has made many items — stuffed animals, Christmas stockings for nursing homes and homeless shelters, mastectomy aprons, lap quilts, pillowcases, baby gowns, dog coats and bedding for animals at local animal rescue shelters, chemo caps and, most recently, 76 pairs of pajamas for teenagers at the Isaiah 117 House in Johnson City. The house provides physical and emotional support for children awaiting foster care placement.

One of the larger projects Sew Crazy undertook this year was the making of 117 wheelchair and walker bags for patients at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center in Johnson City. Mike Kromoff, head of Volunteer Services at the medical center, expressed his gratitude to Sew Crazy for the thoughtful donations. “Every time we present a veteran with the gift (wheelchair or walker bag), we get a big smile and a heartfelt thank you from the bottom of their hearts,” Mike said. “The donations are special to all of us and special to the veterans that receive them.”

Deborah Wilkinson of Elizabethton, vice president of Sew Crazy, said the next sewing project slated for January will be cat hammocks and bedding for the Washington County Animal Shelter. “I especially enjoy working with the animal shelters doing the dog coats,” she said.

Whatever the charitable cause, Deborah said her involvement with Sew Crazy for the past eight years has been very rewarding. “I love to sew but I don’t really sew for myself, and sewing for others is just a great pleasure,” she said.

Sew Crazy welcomes both male and female sewing enthusiasts ages 13 and up (though 12-year-olds are allowed with an adult attending.)

You don’t have to be an expert seamstress to join the group. Susan explained, “We don’t do anything that’s too complex. We do try to have an educational meeting when they can learn a new skill, but nothing that we do is hard.”

While many members bring their own sewing machines, several machines are available to use at the meetings. First-timers are welcome. “You don’t have to worry about bringing anything to the first meeting,” Susan said. “Just contact us and we can answer any questions,” she added.

According to Susan, the materials for all of the charitable projects are provided through donations to Sew Crazy. “Our projects use donated fabrics, but on occasion we have to purchase things to complete a project,” she said. “Being a 501(c)(3) organization, donations are tax deductible,” she added.

Sew Crazy meets every third Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a potluck lunch break. Meetings are held at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, located at 201 E. Watauga Ave., Johnson City. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 18 to begin the animal shelter project. For more information about the meetings or to donate to Sew Crazy, contact Susan at [email protected]

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