Share This Page

American Sewing Guild comes together in Murrysville for holiday stockings

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Murrysville Star
Working together with the Veterans Alliance, members of the American Sewing Guild made Christmas stockings for deployed soldiers at Murrysville Alliance Church on Aug.15. Nancy Snow sews assembled stockings together.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Murrysville Star
Working together with the Veterans Alliance, members of the American Sewing Guild were making Christmas stockings for deployed soldiers at Murrysville Alliance Church on Aug. 15. Annabelle Kopaczynski of Monroeville stacks finished stockings for packaging.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Murrysville Star
Working together with the Veterans Alliance, members of the American Sewing Guild were making Christmas stockings for deployed soldiers at Murrysville Alliance Church on Aug. 15. Marie Machens sews trim around the cuffs of the stockings.

For members of the American Sewing Guild, Christmas came early.

Aug. 15 was the fifth annual Stocking Day at Murrysville Alliance Church, an event in which members of the guild and the community come together and sew holiday stockings that are sent to military personnel overseas.

“We made 3,200 stockings last year,” Maire Machens, a member of the sewing guild and one of the event's coordinators, said during the event. “This year, we have over 4,000 kits cut out; we hope to make over 4,000 stockings.”

There was a job for everyone at the event. There were tracing parties — where the outline of the stockings are traced — and then cutting parties, where the stockings are cut from the material and matched up with trim. Volunteers also ironed, cooked and served meals, and collected finished stockings.

“The first year, it was held at a sewing machine shop in Murrysville that's not there anymore. There were only 10 of us. We only made about 100,” Machens said.

Now, the event has more than 80 volunteers, and the attendance has grown each year, with volunteers showing up at 9 a.m. until the doors close at 9 p.m.

“The stockings are a morale booster,” said Rusty Frankoski, one of the coordinators of the event. “The stockings are showing that (those in the military are) in our thoughts.”

Some members of the guild are local, and a few come from miles away.

Renee Hollis, who has been a member of the sewing guild for about 20 years, travels to the Murrysville Alliance Church every year from New Mexico for this event.

“Our men are giving up a lot for our country, and for us, just being able to sit here and sew is a freedom that most countries and women don't have,” Hollis said about the importance of the event.

For the past three events, the American Sewing Guild has joined forces with Alliance Veterans because a lot of veterans attend the Murrysville Alliance Church.

Tony Martin, the coordinator for Alliance Veterans and also a church member, helped the sewing guild by giving it the use of the church space once a year for the stocking event.

“I am a vet, myself. Served for six years in the military,” Martin said. “It's an encouragement to them, and it boosts morale, and we are showing our support and letting them know we're behind them.”

When the stockings are finished, they are packed up and sent to Military Connections in Penn Hills, a nonprofit organization that focuses on sending morale-boosting care packages to troops overseas.

Many of the volunteers who are not veterans themselves know veterans, and the event is very important to them.

“I don't think there's anyone more important than those soldiers who are giving us our freedom and security,” said Lorie Mottorn, a cook for Meals on Wheels, who also cooks for the stocking event. This was her second year.

“It's not a work of art,” Frankoski said, “but a work of love.”

Jacqueline Dell is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.