Valley Club ’Serging’ Ahead
Local Stitchers Band Together To Sew For People In Need
HARRISONBURG — After Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, Ragtime Fabrics coordinated a volunteer effort to make quilts for the victims of the deadly storm.
One year and 180 quilts later, the store received a thank-you letter from a woman who’d lost everything, saying how much the gesture meant to her.
“People in need really appreciate the kindness of others,” said Belle Stemper, owner of the fabric store on West Market Street in downtown Harrisonburg. “It’s warmly received.”
Now, Ragtime is fulfilling an 11-year-old goal of regularly spreading kindness — and fostering creativity — with the formation of its Sewing for a Cause Club.
The club had its inaugural meeting Wednesday and will meet on the second Wednesday of each month.
Its first project, in coordination with Sentara RMH Volunteer Services, was to make “protect-a-port pillows” for cancer patients.
The small pillows wrap around shoulder straps of seat belts to protect medication-delivery ports attached to the chest of patients receiving chemotherapy.
Three women participated in the first meeting. Stemper said it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a pretty good turnout considering Wednesday was the first meeting and Ragtime had done little advertising.
Stemper wanted to start the club when Ragtime opened 11 years ago in March 2003, but the logistics of organizing and hosting the meeting took time to coordinate.
Ragtime employee Mildred Sealey said the club is a way for the store to give back to the community. Ragtime supplies materials and machines for volunteers.
Next month, the group will make “anti-ouch pouches,” or comfort pouches, for women who have had mastectomies.
They’re designed to prevent women from rubbing their arms up against the surgical area and will look like a regular handbag.
Right now, Sewing for a Cause is only working with Sentara RMH Volunteer Services, but the group wants suggestions from any person or group in the community with ideas for projects.
“We’re hoping to do something new each month,” Sealey said.
Sewing for a Cause is focused on projects that benefit the local community, as opposed to similar groups that send goods overseas.
“They see the needs here,” Sealey said.
Volunteer Valerie Stephens has combined her love for love for sewing with charity for years — something she says is common among those who sew.
It’s good to give back, she said, and also provides a creative outlet.
“We’ll do anything for an excuse to sew,” she said, “especially if someone is willing to give us the fabric.”
Want To Help?
For more information about the Sewing for a Cause Club or to submit ideas for projects, call Ragtime Fabrics at 434-5663.
Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or firstname.lastname@example.org