ROANOKE, Va. – A craft that's quickly turned into a calling, Sassy Stitchers in the Roanoke Valley is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children, military veterans and the elderly each year.
"Sassy Stitchers is a bunch of us old ladies that can't get around very good ... and we try to do the best we can,” said founder Bonnie McKee.
Sassy is a reputation these spunky ladies admittedly earned years ago.
“We were asked our name. We didn't have one. Someone said something smart and I said I guess we are the Sassy Stitchers and I guess it stuck,” Bonnie said with a laugh.
While they have fun doing what they do, the group now spends retirement quilting for a cause.
“I used to be really, really sick, and I needed something to do and I started to making quilts and giving them to the kids' cancer center. It just kept building,” Bonnie said.
Louise Vasquez said it was a hobby that quickly turned into a calling.
“We pray over them, because the Lord knows who's going to get what and how this ministry will help somebody else,” Louise said.
Louise said the group is made up of about 10 members from various local churches, all from different denominations and ethnic backgrounds, along with volunteers.
The ladies are mass-producing hand-stitched blessings. Last year they made 1,900 quilts. As of September, they’ve made 1,600. The ladies make the quilts in assembly line fashion, each one specializing in a task. Once they’ve completed their task of sewing, tacking or lining, they pass the quilt along to another lady at a different location.
Despite the impressive output, they don’t take credit.
“I have two hands. In the morning I wake up and say ‘Lord what do you want me to do? This is your day’,” Louise said.
The quilts are donated to the Roanoke Rescue Mission, where they receive help from volunteers in the program. Additional quilts are donated to UVA Children's Cancer Center, veterans, hospice care centers, and more.
"Apparently it means a lot more than what we thought it did,” Bonnie said.
Bonnie's kept a book of thank-you cards she's received over the years.
“Mom received one of your blankets at Roanoke Memorial in what was the last days. She passed on December 7, 2018. She was holding on to that blanket of yours. I now have that blanket and would not take 1 million bucks for it,” a letter read.
Bonnie began to cry when reading it aloud. It’s proof the quilts are mending more than what they ever expected.
“You don't realize what you're doing until you read that,” Bonnie said.
Sassy Stitchers needs your help. Weekly travel to various locations with large amounts of quilting supplies is not only expensive, and time-consuming, it’s hard on the members. Bonnie said the group is looking for one location to do their quilting.
They are hoping to partner with a church or other organization who can let them use their space.
If you or your church could help, call Bonnie at 540-570-0360 and leave a message.
The group also accepts donations of new or gently used fabric, towels and sheets.