OZARK — Eleven-year-old LaTaya Clay said she never knew until sewing a blanket for her mother recently that she could love such a skill.
On Thursday, she was given the chance to create many more garments after people pooled their resources to purchase sewing machines for her and 15 other girls who take sewing classes at the Boys and Girls Club of Ozark.
The girls were surprised with the sewing machines during a Christmas gift distribution with Santa Claus and his elves for all the kids at the club on Thursday. The machines were among several gifts donated from throughout the community and from residents in other states to the 157 students on roll at the club.
According to club programs coordinator Jessica Gardner, the club received a Payless Shoes grant that funded 75 pairs of shoes for the girls who attend. The Kiwanis Club donated money for basketballs and toys for the boys, while Gardner said Dollar General also furnished some toys.
She said parents of children who attend the club provided snacks and chocolate milk for the students during their visit with Santa.
“It’s really amazing how people from everywhere literally came together to make this the best Christmas I think we’ve ever had here at the club,” Gardner said.
The club’s sewing teacher, Michelle Tymrak, said the 16 sewing machines cost about $50 each and were donated by two of her personal friends and a Hobby Lobby employee. The Front Porch Quilt Shop in Ozark has also agreed to volunteer time and materials to help the girls, she said.
Tymrak said the idea to reach out to the public came when she suggested to one of the girls to practice her sewing at home and the girl said she couldn’t because she didn’t have a sewing machine.
“It’s the most amazing thing to be a part of, just watching the girls learn how to sew and be passionate about something,” Tymrak said.
“Sewing is something these girls can hold on to until they’re 80, 90 years old and possibly start a career with it. The moving part is that by just telling the story, four people wanted to change their lives as much as I do.”
Zoey Jackson, 11, said sewing provides her an opportunity to use her thoughts and fabric in the same way she watched her grandmother sew.
Ten-year-old Ahshunti Creech said the sewing classes are preparing her for her dream career.
“When I grow up I want to be a fashion designer,” she said.
“Sewing lets me be creative.”