Sunday, October 17, 2010

Reuse, Renew, Recycle--and make someone happy!

It was a project that started last winter. My portion of it began in the Spring, collecting miniature sewing kits, notions, needles, thread, buttons, thimbles and used pharmacy prescription bottles (washed thoroughly) from members of our congregation. Scraps of fabric, hair rollers, thread, gallons of glue and 4 months later, there they were, 60 of them, and a few extra (just in case).

What were these things? Well, I took all those ingredients (with the help of a few little elves that reside at my house) and turned them into miniature, decoupage decorated sewing kits.

These kits were added to handmade ditty bags, along with hand knit wool caps and scarves, soaps, playing cards, postcards, candy, chewing gum, calling cards and holiday greetings, collected, donated or made by children and adults at our parish.

What in the world?

This was an outreach effort made by members of our church, Christ Episcopal Church in Alameda, CA, to benefit the seafarers on two ships that will dock at the Port of Oakland this month. These gifts were blessed by this morning by our Interim Rector, The Rev. Anne Jensen and our congregation. This labor of love has been handed over to the Port of Oakland office of SCI, The Seaman's Church Institute, and thirty bags will be given by the Port of Oakland SCI Chaplain, The Rev. James Lindgren, to the captains of the two ships our Church has "adopted." The bags will be gifted to the seafarers on board these vessels on Christmas morning. This is actually a nationwide effort that involves churches and other groups, all over the country, for the benefit of seafarers on many ships.

Well, there you have it. A fun little project. Honestly, a huge little project. We were painting layers of glue onto these bottles for weeks. And I was shifting bags and boxes of supplies all over our house for months.

How to make the sewing kits, and particularly such details as what kind of container to use and what the size should be, were fun puzzles to figure out. (My husband thought I was crazy to use foam curlers, which I wound sewing thread on, and wrapped my felt swatch of pins and needles around. It all fits so nicely in the pharmacy bottles.)  And then, you spend the time crafting the items, assembling all the little bits and pieces (more than you imagined when you started the project), and happily deliver them, somewhat relieved that they are all done, and you can finally use the dining room table again. Whew!

About midweek, I received a call from Adrienne Yee, one of the Outreach Coordinators at our church, and also Bay Area Development Director for the SCI Oakland Center. She said that everyone was thrilled with the design of the sewing kits... so much so that they want to make it a model for the nation-wide effort! An article appears about this on the SCI blog entitled The Knit Before Christmas.

What a thrill! You do your thing, offer your time and talent, make a gift and pass it on. You never think that what you are doing is all that different or special, and then something like this happens.

The most important part of this, for me, is the renewal of something someone used and would have thrown away, or maybe recycled. There are many things we use that are needlessly added to landfill. What if we could take some of these things and extend their life cycle of usefulness by turning them into art objects?

A thing of beauty is a joy, and if it is something you made, what a gift! Why, it is bound to make someone happy!

So, I say thanks to the Seaman's Church Institute for their Christmas At Sea program, and our Outreach Commission for engaging our church in this labor of love.

Good wishes and blessings and Heavenly protection to all Seafarers, who labor on ships across the wide oceans and seas.

And to all you crafty crafters out there, keep on inventing! You never know how far it will go!

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