Christmas Stocking project helps local children

Barbara Hootman

Some 150 handmade Christmas stockings are stuffed and nestled around the Christmas tree in the holiday room at the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry. They’re waiting to brighten Christmas in the Valley for children.

The Black Mountain United Methodist Church’s congregation agreed to make and stuff 100 stockings for the Valley’s underprivileged children.

“After I met with The Black Mountain United Methodist Church committee and they had asked what the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry could use for Christmas, I said stockings to be distributed to children in the Valley who might otherwise have little,” said Renae Brame, the ministry’s executive director. “I went to the ladies at my church, St. James Episcopal, and asked if some of them could make 50 stockings so all the kids on our Christmas list will receive one. I chose Christmas stockings because I think they make each child feel special.”

Christmas stockings can be traced back to a nobleman named Nicholas, born in 280 AD in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor. Nicholas became a Christian priest and used all his riches to help the poor, needy and sick.

Volunteers from St. James Episcopal met, many with sewing machines in tow, selected material and went to work making unique, hand-decorated stockings, some with embroidered designs. The Episcopalian ladies met for one work session. The United Methodist ladies took their stockings home, sewed and stuffed them, and brought them back to the church.

Nancy Goodwin, an Episcopalian volunteer with a sewing machine that could do most anything asked of it, said she volunteered for the stocking project because she has grandchildren.

“I feel no child should be left out of Christmas,” she said. “Also, this is a fun project.”

Marilyn Spivey, coordinator of the Christmas Stockings Project at St. James Episcopal, emphasized that it is an outreach program for the volunteers.

“Not only does it help the children of the Valley, it also helps our ladies get to know one another,” she said. “That makes the project a combination of social and outreach. We like the project because these stockings are going to Valley children who need a little help. Projects like this help us help our own. The stockings are stuffed with small toys, candy, pencils, crayons, and whatever a child likes. They are age-specific as well.”

Lyn Deese coordinated the project for the Methodist church.

“Renae Brame thought it would help equalize the giving a little. Some children get more than others, and sometime some children may feel left out. But with the Christmas stockings every child gets about the same. The ladies worked hard and really had a good time with this project.”