What started out as a Puget Sound staff member’s project for a business class has turned into ASUPS’ newest philanthropic student organization. Needlecrafts for Charity brings the campus community together once a week to help serve the world, one stitch at a time. Since their recognition as a club on Feb. 24, the group has made stuffed cats and bears for homeless children at Phoenix housing and has a set of new projects in the works.
Club advisor and founder Lori Neumann first got students together in January to help fulfill a community service requirement for her business program at Evergreen State College.
“The idea was to give back by teaching a skill, helping the community and to do it green,” Neumann said. “We use all donated fabrics and clothing because we wanted to make it sustainable.”
The next project is making cat mats for the humane society. Animals are kept in cubicles with nothing to lie on, and Neumann believes the animals appear more ready for adoption if they have something nice to sit on. After that, the group plans to sell homemade sewn goods like purses and wallets in the S.U.B. as a fundraiser. In the long run, Neumann hopes to craft hats for chemotherapy patients at Malfigan Hospital in Tacoma and make kits for Project Thrive, a Washington-based non-profit that provides hand-sewn sanitary pads for women in developing countries.
The club has between eight and ten members currently that meet in McIntyre room 107 once a week. The Business Department, for whom Neumann is a secretary, provides space for the club to store their supplies and also a place to meet. Needlecrafts for Charity received a small budget from ASUPS to purchase a sewing machine and some other supplies, although they are always looking for more clothes to deconstruct. Freshman Kimberlee Redman-Garner is the club president.
“We meet once a week, but someone can always jump in, wherever they are at in terms of sewing. We’re open to new ideas; sewing is all about doing it yourself. We want to teach people sustainable sewing,” Redman-Garner said.
Sewing presents a number of other benefits, according to Neumann.
“There is a social aspect that just starts to take place while they work. People talk about their lives and it turns into a great network, and I love watching that happen,” Nuemann said. “It is also a form of relaxation. If they need to distress after an exam, they will pull out their work and stitch for a couple of minutes to distract themselves.”
Sewing skill varies dramatically throughout the club membership, as about half of the current members had never sewed before joining the club. To contrast, Neumann says she has been sewing almost since before she can remember.
“My mom gave me my first sewing machine when I was eight, and I still have it today. I took every home education course in junior high and continued sewing in college,” Neumann said. “I taught sewing in a community center in Mississippi, as well as in fabric stores and at Tacoma Community College for three years.”