Armed with machines and enthusiasm, volunteers sew for a cause - Tucson News Now

Armed with machines and enthusiasm, volunteers sew for a cause

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Volunteers were crafting for a cause on Saturday, July 22. They got together at the Tucson Woman's Club to use their sewing skills to help foster children.

The whirring sound of sewing machines filled the room, with each stitch and needle movement a step closer to a goal.

For the second year, Linda Strauss was putting in work as a volunteer at the annual Bags for Kids Sew-A-Thon. This time around, the Tucson woman saw an opportunity.

"Everybody here comes and they just do the bags on their own. So we started an assembly line. Because we thought, 'If we do this as an assembly line we may be able to get more done.' Our competitive streak said let's do it," Strauss said.

Thus, Team Leeeeenda was formed. 

The team of women was having a little friendly competition with the roughly 90 other volunteers sewing on their machines they brought from home, along with the 30 other volunteers who helped put drawstrings on the bags.

Because the real winner is who these men and women were helping.

"It kind of started as a grassroots movement from a case worker and her friends," said Cindy Lingel with Aviva Children's Services.

The event has grown ever since its inception, Lingel said. Now in its 19th straight year, and put on by Aviva, the group hands off the finished product to kids in need.

"The first year that we completed 600 bags we thought, 'This can never be topped,'" Lingel said. "Now we're completing 2,000 in a day."

Aviva Children’s Services is a Tucson-based nonprofit agency that provides support services and resources to enhance the quality of life for children who are victims of abuse, neglect and poverty, and are in the care of the Department of Child Safety, according to a news release.

In the release, the group said that over the past five years, the number of foster children in Pima County has increased by close to 50 percent – peaking at 4,500. These children can often jump from home to home with few belongings to their name.

"Their belongings are packed into black plastic trash bags. When you see a child put his belongings into a trash bag, there's no dignity in that. It makes them feel their valuables are not valuable at all," Lingel said. "So when they have a handmade cloth duffel bag, by somebody who's heart and soul went into it, they know that somebody in the community cares about them."

In this case, it's a communal team of about 120 people.

"They don't have enough, and to give them a bag to put their things in, instead of a trash bag, I think is huge," Strauss said.

The Sew-A-Thon was sponsored by Cathey’s Sewing and Vacuum, Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue, and the Tucson Woman’s Club. Lingel said that they distribute about 6,000 duffel bags total every year.

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