I’ve just returned from another trip to New Orleans. This time, we took 50 machines and 30 boxes of books. What an experience! 41 machines went to individuals in what is probably our best distribution yet. With the help of 4 wonderful colleagues, Peter, Kathy, Maggie and Tess, we were able to distribute the machines personally and efficiently. Each recipient was greeted and had the chance to discuss the type of sewing they do and then they were guided to appropriate machines from which to choose. Additionally, we had lots of fabric and notions that had been donated so everyone left with a machine and some cool treasures to get started on projects right away.

We had 3 similar-model Kenmores that were put to use in sewing classes through the Guardians Institute in New Orleans. 6 machines went to elders in the Mardi Gras Indian community.

The books had been collected through the Madison Public Schools Book Rescuers program and they were delivered to McDonough 42 Charter School in the heart of New Orleans. This school houses elementary age children, grades Pre-K through 8th grade. The books will be used to start classroom lending libraries in this vibrant school that only recently reopened. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a music program featuring Charmaine Neville. During the program, each child received a new book, funded by the Guardian’s Institute and it was clear that a great focus of the school is to inspire a love of reading.

There are so many interesting stories that accompany these distributions. One machine in particular went to an elderly woman who had lost her machine in Katrina. She told the story of growing up in a household with 11 other children where they learned to sew at an early age and had 3 machines set up at all times in the house. The children sewed, assembly line style, to make all the clothing and household goods necessary to keep this big family running. An amazing and inspiring story!

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