Jefferson Award Winner Founded Sew For LoveBy Allen Martin

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) Using donated fabric, needles, and thread, this week’s Jefferson Award winner has come up with a way to create little things that provide huge comfort. She does it for the love of sewing.. and the love of her community.

Michelle Zeiler started “Sew for Love” in San Jose 17 years ago, first teaching Girl Scouts how to sew using leftover and recycled fabric.

“But then it ended up they dropped it and I said ‘I can’t not let this go it has to be a community service forever,'” she recalled.

“Community service” because Sew for Love uses donated fabric and supplies to hand make thousands of items to give away to more than 30 charities in seven Bay Area counties. At monthly events, and at an annual sew-a-thon, volunteers create blankets, hats, bags, stuffed animals, and a six-sided chair Zeiler calls a “cubie.” Nothing goes to waste: all the scraps get collected, and kids get to stuff them into the cubies and the cubies get donated.

The charities that benefit include women’s groups, animal shelters, and first responders.

Zeiler remembered the time a police officer called her:

“He told me that this little animal we had donated actually calmed the little girl down on the freeway after an accident,” she explained.

Jodi Wallace is a long-time volunteer.

“And we know that we’re doing good in our community and really that’s what’s important,” Wallace said.

Zeiler’s daughter was one of the first Girl Scout volunteers. She admits that at home, with donations piling up, it could get overwhelming.

“She makes it work and you know when you see the end goal, you just work with it,” Vanessa Clayton said.

“If we make just one item that’s all it needs to be,” Zeiler added. “We volunteered, we made one item, the community was changed by one life, and that’s really where it’s at.”

So for providing thousands of hand-sewn items to donate to the community, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Michelle Zeiler.


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