Independent Living Residents Find Way to Give Back to Larger Greenville, Pa., Community

Greenville Police Corporal Ian Kelly, Coralee Armstrong, Bertha Zimmerman, Betty Stubert and Office Jacob Kindle during the care kit presentation

The residents of St. Paul’s Senior Living Community — an older adult continuing care community in Greenville, Pa. — are used to doing for others. For years, its Auxiliary has raised funds to enhance resident life on campus. Quilters, sewers, and other crafters often create items to sell on behalf of the Auxiliary. But recently, residents discovered a way to extend that goodwill to the larger Greenville community.

After an anonymous gift of fleece fabric, some of the residents of The Colony — an independent living neighborhood on St Paul’s campus — realized they had more than enough to make blankets to sell and benefit St. Paul’s. What to do with the extra fabric?

“We discussed ideas to make the best use of the lovely fabric,” said Bertha Zimmerman, resident of The Colony. “Someone mentioned how local police could use something to comfort children during crisis situations — not only concerning domestic violence issues, but also following auto accidents, house fires, and more.”

The Greenville Police Department welcomed the idea, so the group — calling themselves the Sew N Sews — went to work. As they were making the blankets, group members Zimmerman, Kathy Anderson, Mary Moore, Coralee Armstrong, Betty Stubert, and Margie Hays realized that they wanted the make larger comfort kits for the children, and decided that teddy bears would be the perfect addition.

The women held a teddy bear drive within the Colony neighborhood, and residents along with St. Paul’s staff donated new and “gently loved” teddy bears to the cause. “We put a sign up by the mailboxes and an empty Rubbermaid tote and, before long, it was full (and needed to be emptied several times)!” said Zimmerman.

It took about three months to make the blankets, collect the bears, and determine how to present the nearly 20 gift packages, Zimmerman said. But today, Greenville’s police officers keep these comfort kits in their patrol cars for easy access and to present them to children who need them.

Recently, the Sew N Sews — which started as a quilters group — have contemplated a name change to the Sew N So’s: since the project, the group has added crafters and bakers to the people who sew. And while they still like doing projects for the Auxiliary to benefit St. Paul’s, “many of the residents are finding or asking about opportunities to support both their immediate community here at St. Paul’s and the greater Greenville community,” said Jennie A. Kather, St. Paul’s marketing specialist. “It’s important to them that they feel useful and can contribute in meaningful ways.”

One thing is for sure: because of the Sew N Sews, Greenville children experiencing trauma now have one additional way of knowing that someone cares and wants the best for them.

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