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CALABASH—They gather several times a month just to keep things in stitches, both through sewing and lighthearted fellowship.
For the past decade, the “salty seamstresses” of Saltaire Village have donated time and talent making hundreds of hand-sewn teddy bears and infant quilts to comfort children and babies in hospital and shelters.
Since the mid 1990s, they say they’ve made more than 5,000 bears and quilts.
Last week, the group presented their latest creations to representatives from Brunswick Community Hospital, Hope Harbor Home and Calabash Emergency Medical Services.
“They have made such a remarkable difference,” said Ruth Ann Keener, manager of volunteer services at Brunswick Community Hospital.
The blankets are used for newborns as well as special needs babies. The teddy bears are given to children in emergency situations or who may be facing surgery in the hospital.
Keener said the bears are given to children to cuddle prior to surgery, and also are used a teaching tools, to show young patients where their surgery is taking place. After surgery, the children and their bears may emerge from the operating room sporting identical bandages.
The Saltaire seamstresses meet regularly at their community clubhouse to sew. The “salty bear”-stitchers gather on Wednesdays to cut material from patterns, sew the ursine pieces together and stuff and paint the bears’ faces. The Saltaire quilters meet on Fridays to stitch cotton and flannel material for the homemade baby blankets.
Several members bring their sewing machines, while others take material to work on at home.
Saltaire seamstress Dorothy Cady buys the colorful array of material to be transformed by her cohorts.
Quilter Mary Melnyk said they do it for the camaraderie and because they enjoy it.
“You’re making something for others, but you’re also doing something for yourself because it gives you a good feeling,” she said. “If you’re having a down day, it kind of brightens your life.”
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at email@example.com.