Making holidays brighter for kids

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There’s a lot more than stretching and stepping going on at a local fitness class. Several members are also involved in service project designed to brighten the holiday season for kids in need.

The Fit and Flex group, which meets weekday mornings at the Elkader Fitness Center, has embraced projects launched by two of its members. The first is an effort led by Debbie Crane to make kids’ pajamas.

“I went to a garage sale in Cedar Rapids and there was a table with a stack of new flannel on it, probably 15 or 20 yards,” Debbie said. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but I knew I had to buy it.”

What she decided to do was make pajama bottoms. It’s a simple project for a talented seamstress like Debbie but it results in an article of clothing that kids in need seem always in need of. Diane Finely, who leads the workout class, suggested the group purchase pajama tops. To date, nearly two dozen complete sets in sizes ranging from 3 to 14 are ready to go. They’ll be distributed at the Shepherd of the Hills (SoH) annual Christmas Just 4 Kids Giveaway December 11 and 12th (see related article on page X).

 Donations of cash, thread and storage bags have been given by various class members. And for one of the women, the project resulted in an added bonus: Betty Buchholz was able to clean out her sewing room where she had stored yards of flannel and other items that Debbie could make use of.

Verna Lenth, a class member and former SoH board member, helped Debbie with some of the sewing.

“I made pajamas in the past for my grandkids and I know what the need is at Shepherd of the Hills. So this was one way I could give back,” she said. “Plus, it’s just a nice feeling knowing that you’re helping someone.”

Class members have also assisted Ellen Collins with clothing donations for Clarity Clinic, a Dubuque-based non-profit that assists pregnant women with medical service, financial planning classes and other needs.

“You don’t have to give much to make a difference and garage sales are a great option for finding quality used clothing,” said Ellen.

Philanthropy is not a new concept to class members. In the past, they’ve made care packages for overseas troops. And their concern for those in needs extends to their own members in their times of need. They’ve comforted each other through the loss of friends and family members. A few yers ago when one class member was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, they took turns driving her to her chemotherapy treatments.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a November-December series of articles under the general theme of “thanks for giving.”

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