, Newburyport, MA


April 17, 2009

Sew needed; Port seamstress crafting school bags for students in third-world countries

Port seamstress crafting school bags for students in Third World countries

11Now a resident of the James Steam Mill in Newburyport, Eaton still has her hands in fabric, only now she lends her talents to charity by creating fabric tote bags filled with school supplies for children in Third World countries.

"It started after the tsunami (in the Indian Ocean) in 2004," Eaton, 80, said. "My daughter and I decided to make bags to fill and send where there is a need."

In conjunction with People's United Methodist Church in Newburyport, Eaton and her daughters, Donna Mansur and Brenda McDonald, both of Salem, N.H., are hoping to ultimately create 200 bags for needy children. They've finished more than 50 so far.

The finished bags are sent to the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Alabama, which then sends them around the world to people in need. While Eaton and her daughters focus on school supplies, the United Methodist Committee on Relief collects a variety of relief supply kits for distribution, including health, bedding and sewing kits. The kits help to care for vulnerable people during times of crisis as well as sustain everyday life by providing basic necessities to people without access to essential supplies.

Once a week, Eaton's daughters come to the community room in the James Steam Mill to help her cut, sew and fill each bag.

"We make about 10 bags in three hours," Eaton said. "Right now we have 55 to ship, 15 made and 20 cut and ready to be sewn."

Eaton's bags are crafted from different fabric and then each filled with two spiral notebooks, 12 pieces of construction paper, 24 crayons, blunt-nose scissors, six pencils, a ruler that marks both inches and centimeters, a small pencil sharpener and an eraser.

"I hope they go to Africa, because there is a lot of need there," Eaton said. She then added, "But as long as they go to where they are needed."

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