The whir of a dozen sewing machines could be heard Thursday afternoon at South Middle School as a group of students put the finishing touches on toiletry bags.
In assembly line fashion, the South Sewing Club stitched together the sides of the brightly-colored bags, which were destined for the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City, Mo. In all, about 60 bags were stuffed with toothbrushes, deodorant, razors, cotton swabs and other toiletry items.
The bags were the idea of Coleen Creed, a family and consumer science teacher at South and instructor of the sewing club. Creed no longer teaches sewing as part of the family and consumer sciences curriculum, but she continues to find ways to encourage students to learn to sew through the monthly sewing club meetings. Last semester, the group made Christmas stockings for the Ronald McDonald House.
“I just love it,” Creed said of the sewing-related community service project. “It gives me the spark of joy that is missing in a lot of teaching today.”
Among the students behind the sewing machine Thursday was Taylor Cummins, an eighth-grader who has known how to sew practically her “whole life” and decided to join the club because a friend wanted to learn the craft. Taylor also liked the idea behind the club’s project.
“We are doing it for a good cause. It really is helping people who are in need. And, if I had to sew for a living, I would do it to help others,” she said.
The bags were just one of the many ways the school has raised money and donations for the charity, which provides a place to stay for families traveling to Kansas City for child medical care. The students have collected tabs from aluminum cans, competed to see whose class could bring in the most donations and held a student dance where proceeds went to purchase items to fill the toiletry bags.
On Thursday afternoon, Alan Lubert with Ronald McDonald House Charities in Kansas City visited South to collect the donations. Along with the toiletry bags, there were boxes filled with coloring books, soaps and other supplies that families staying at the house might need. The student council also handed over a $150 check that was raised during the dance.
“The best thing of all is it’s kids helping kids,” Lubert said about the donations. “We find ways to pay the bills ... but it is the volunteers like these young people who really make the houses into homes where families feel safe and relaxed and comfortable.”
Lubert said the toiletry bags will be put to good use because many of the families who come to the Ronald McDonald House arrive after a medical emergency and are hundreds of miles away from home without even a toothbrush.
“The kids are learning they can make a big difference in people’s lives,” Lubert said.