Sewing to serve

by Jenny White

Alison Simcock sewing

In early November 2020, it came to light that a project in the Burnley area of the Chorley England Stake needed some help putting together hygiene packs for vulnerable women. Stake and Ward leaders banded together to find a solution and quickly got approval to make a large donation from LDS Charities.

Pile of finished hygiene packs

The project organisers were very grateful for the donation to help purchase items to go into the bags but had a cost issue when buying the bags themselves. Carol Cryer, Relief Society President in the Burnley Ward, put her sewing skills to good use and created a video tutorial on making a drawstring hygiene pack. Along with her daughter, Emily, they got materials out to the sisters in the Stake to share the load. The sisters worked tirelessly sewing 5,000 bags in just a few weeks, hoping the packs would be ready for Christmas.

Lynda Brewster sewing

Sister Lynn Lomax shared her experience of being able to serve remotely during a pandemic, “I have loved sewing the bags, as it has given me a sense of unity with others even though Covid-19 separates us. I have felt the blessings by working as one in purpose. The Lord has helped me to improve my talents. I have felt a sense of peace and gratitude that comes with doing service for others at this busy time of year. I know that the Lord has blessed me while sewing these bags.”

Janet Leeds sewing on sewing machine

Sister Angela Lewis shared her joy at being able to involve her whole family in a project they could do together, “Our youngest, Felicity, 5, poked the corners out with a chopstick. My four other children helped with ironing and using the sewing machine. Some proved to be naturals with the machine. My husband Mark had the role of threading through the ties with the safety pin.”

Pearl Shackleton

Sister Lynda Brewster spoke of the blessing it was to take part, “I have had the privilege to help out with making these bags. It has been a blessing to me as well as whoever receives them. I love to sew and serve, a great combination.”

Sewing machine and pile of material
Lynn Lomax sewing on sewing machine

Sister Caroline Amos said, “I was grateful for this service opportunity. I recently had back surgery and haven't been able to do much to help others, but this allowed me to do a little service each day when I was feeling up to it, and I always feel better when I serve!”

Jo Redworth sewing on sewing machine

Sister Pearl Shackleton felt uplifted by the opportunity to take part. She said, “Members have come together to help in a small way, perhaps some would say an insignificant drop in the ocean. But I know it has generated feelings of purpose and togetherness far greater than the task itself. Just as our Prophet Russell M Nelson encouraged us to post messages of thankfulness; a small thing to ask, but the consequences to those who took part were huge and uplifting.”

Zach sewing on sewing machine
Spencer ironing

Sister Mary Robinson shared a heart-warming experience that she had with her family while they served. “It was easy for me to volunteer for this project as I thought it would be a great opportunity to enlist my children in service and to teach them some new skills in the process. We started with a conveyor belt system, which was great to begin with, but it didn’t take too long to descend into something like chaos. Everyone wanted it to be their turn with the sewing machine, as they were thoroughly enjoying how fast they could get it to go.

I spent most of my efforts re-organising their work, unpicking stitches, re-threading the machine, and so on. My husband, Lee, helped the boys with the machine, and my six-year-old daughter was trimming the threads. My four-year old’s counting efforts consisted of throwing the bags in the air and hoping they’d land in some sort of pile.

Rosa sewing on a sewing machine
Freya sewing on sewing machine

I was ironing them back into shape and hemming the tops with the help of my 11-year-old daughter, Rosa, and musing to myself that it would be so much quicker and easier for me just to do them myself. Just as I’d finished that thought, Rosa quietly whispered to me, ‘Mum, this is great seeing my prayers come true. I’m always praying that the poor will get what they need, and now I’m helping them too.’ My heart melted, and I was so grateful for every tiny hand and for every loving heart that was so willing and happy to help. I didn’t see the mess or chaos after that., just the love they each had for their fellowmen. I was reminded of how richly we are blessed as we reach out and serve, and how willing the Holy Ghost is to teach and mould us into a more Christlike version of ourselves as we do. And more than that, how incalculably valuable it is to teach these lessons to our children.”

In all, 5,000 bags were sewn and filled with hygiene products to be given to women in need. It was a wonderful experience for each sister who served and truly brought the light of Christ into their lives in what indeed was a difficult time.

Group photo of teh children who helped