La PORTE – The rhythmic hums of sewing machine needles, darting quickly up and down. The sharp snips of scissors slicing into cloth. The tiny clicks of knitting needles clanging into each other while moving through a spool of yarn.

And the gentle chuckles and hearty laughs generated from conversations between close friends.

The La Porte County Fairgrounds community room was alive with sound during the La Porte County Extension Homemakers' latest Lend a Hand Day on Tuesday. Dozens of local sewers, knitters and crocheters came together to create an assortment of clothing and apparel for local residents in need.

Sitting behind the sewing machines set up atop several wooden tables, members of the Steady Stitchers – a chapter of the Extension Homemakers – worked on several projects. 

Warm quilts and colorful wheelchair bags were among the creations, which the club will donate to residents of local nursing homes. Sewers also worked on so-called "fuzzy monsters" – stuffed animals with goofy expressions that will be given to the Dunebrook child advocacy program.

"A lot of organizations contact us and ask for something specific," said Steady Stitchers member Peggy Grzesiowski. "If we got the supplies to do it, we do it."

At a card table set up near the sewing stations, volunteers with Yarns and More – another chapter of the Extension Homemakers – worked away on their balls of yarn. The crafters created hats and scarves for those staying at homeless shelters in Michigan City and La Porte, as well as afghans for nursing homes, said Sharon Russ, who leads the knitting and crocheting group.

Both clubs have participated in Lend a Hand Day events since their inception around seven years ago, Grzesiowski said. Taking place four times a year – twice in the spring and twice in the fall – the 12-hour-long create-a-thons give local fabric and yarn lovers a chance to put their skills to use for a good cause, while working alongside good friends.

While both clubs connect and create regularly, the Lend a Hand Days are perfect for members who cannot attend regular meetings, Grzesiowski said. Instead, they can pop in at any time during the daylong event and work for a few hours – though a few choose to power through the entire day.

Free breakfast, lunch and dinner is another perk, she said.

"We gotta keep our sugar levels up," she joked, while pointing over to the boxes of donuts sitting on the other end of the room.

Lend a Hand Day also serves as an excellent way for novices to learn more about working with fabric and yarn, as members of each club are always happy to help beginners learn the ropes, Grzesiowski said.

Volunteers can also help with sorting, cutting fabric or other simple tasks.

"There's so much stuff to do," Grzesiowski said. "A lot, a lot of stuff."

Attendees also have the chance to connect with other locals with the same passions and interests. Those new to La Porte County get a chance to meet dozens of fellow sewers and knitters in a single day.

"Between both groups, a lot of friendships have been built," Russ said.

The next Lend a Hand Day will take place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Fairgrounds Community Building at 2581 W. Ind. 2 in La Porte. To learn more, call 362-3016 or email steadystitchers@gmail.com.

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