Club stitches hats for patients
The Beaver Zippers have joined a St. Elizabeth Health Center effort.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Beaver Zippers 4-H sewing club members are stitching up a storm making hats for area cancer patients undergoing treatment.
The nine girls have sewed about 250 hats since becoming affiliated with St. Elizabeth Health Center's Project Love in January.
The 4-H members, ages 9 to 18, are required to sew 10 to 15 hats between their bimonthly meetings, said the Beaver Zippers adviser, Margie Stanwood.
The girls, residents of the Beaver, Columbiana and Boardman areas, are the main contributors to Project Love. But there are also other volunteers who sew hats, and more are sought, said Rita Havis, volunteer manager at St. Elizabeth.
The hats are given free to patients in St. Elizabeth cancer centers in Youngstown and Boardman. The hats are also distributed at several area beauty salons, including Hair Cuts and Color, North Lima; DeLisio's Hair Replacements, Austintown; Expressions, Sebring; Jeannie's Beauty Designs, Howland; and Shears Styling Studio, Hubbard.
"I think the girls need to learn at a young age the responsibility of doing things for other people and not just for themselves," said Stanwood of North Lima.
Project Love is an ideal task because the girls can work independently at their own pace, and they are able to demonstrate compassion for those in need, she said.
The idea for Project Love originated with Debbie Heberling of Canfield, who was inspired to do something after her mother, Olive Bowman, died with breast cancer in 2002.
"I felt so many blessings during that most difficult time in my life, and one of those was being surrounded by my family," Heberling said.
"At that time, I became aware that many do not have the support of family and need the compassion of others to help them through their difficult times. My hope -- my prayer -- is that no one should have to feel alone in a similar situation," she said.
"With every cut that is done and every stitch that is made, with the circle of friends that come together to make these special bonnets, I hope we can help those who may feel alone," she said.
Heberling thanked the volunteers at St. Elizabeth, the Beaver Zippers and area beauty salons for turning her dream into reality.
"Together we can make a difference in other people's lives," Heberling said.
Anyone who wants to volunteer to sew or donate materials or money for the project may contact Rita Havis, Volunteer Department manager at St. Elizabeth, at (330) 480-3364.
The cancer hats are the main theme for the Beaver Zippers' booth in the 4-H tent at the Canfield Fair this year. Also, the Zippers wrote papers about their involvement in Project Love, which led their club to win second place for the Jean Craig Community Service Award given at the fair Thursday.
Stanwood, whose grandmother Margaret Dreiling began teaching her to sew at the age of 9, cuts the material into small, medium and large pieces, and the girls sew them together. It only takes them about 15 minutes to sew a hat, she said.
Stanwood has been the head adviser for the Zippers for 10 years. Her assistant is Edwynna Stacy, who has been with the club for about 37 years and was the head adviser when Stanwood was a girl.
Rachel Stanwood, a senior at South Range High School, is one of three Stanwood sisters in the Beaver Zippers. The others are Shannon, a senior at Ashland University and a club adviser, and Katie, a seventh-grader at South Range Middle School.
Rachel, who plans to become a pediatric cancer nurse, likes to sew and has made articles of clothing -- such as coats, jackets and jumpers -- for herself.
But, she said, "It is particularly rewarding to help others and do community service work and see that people are touched by it."