SANTA’S WORKSHOP: Green Bees reach out to those in need

20121213 Greengate-Grove-A-park-giving IMG 0641Walking into the hall at Green Gate Grove RV Park in Mission, it almost looked like Santa’s workshop, buzzing with all the people busy working hard at their tasks. However, these ladies are the Green Bees Quilters, and just like Santa’s elves, they have a goal.

“We like to do a community service project each year,” said Annette Sweet, queen of the Green Bees. “This is our pet project. Each year we make handmade quilts and collect non-perishable food, new clothes and new toys to donate to this project.”

“We do this for the Proyecto Desarrollo Humano (Project for Human Development) in Peñitas,” said Paula Baldwin, a guest quilter from Bentsen Grove and good friend of Annette Sweet. “The community center is run by Catholic sisters who are part of a missionary sisterhood, with missions all over the world. Seven years ago they had no building – just a dream. Now they have a lovely building and a place we can take our gifts.”

“The reason we like to give there is because we know that the clothes, the gifts, the Christmas boxes are given to those families that are truly in need and it has a definitive place. That’s why we picked Project for Human Development,” explained Annette. “Our first year, three years ago, we donated 90 quilts and had three van loads of food, toys and gifts to take out there. Last year we had 95 quilts and this year we’ve already made 100 quilts.”

Raising funds for their materials through the quilt show they hold each year, they’ve also been getting quilts ready for that day – February 5, 2013.

Having delivered their gifts on Wednesday, Dec. 12, there was a sadness this year as Janie, the force behind the donations and gift giving for Christmas for the Human Development Project, recently passed away.

“She will be missed,” Annette said with sadness. “It was a bittersweet day.”

Finding out about the project came through Paula.

“My husband and I volunteer in Peñitas, teaching English as a second language, helping people obtain their GEDs and doing repairs for the people in the colonia, the Sisters and the community center,” Paula said. “We told Annette and the Green Bees about it and they decided to take it on as their project. These Green Bees are some of the nicest people you could ever find. They are lovely, supportive women.”

“We have a structure within our group. Quilting isn’t the most important thing. Our first and foremost thing is fellowship. We’re here to support one another. Secondly is we love to have lunch,” Annette explained, laughing. “We’re very good cooks. Then comes the quilting and then the community service.”

During their time in the Valley, the Green Bees learn new techniques, start new projects.

“We quilt all year. We do a lot and donate a lot. We’ve even made incubator covers for one of the hospital’s neo-natal units. We average about 40 women during December to March, working almost every Tuesday,” Annette said.

Taking me through their assembly line filling the hall, it was obvious the women were proud of their accomplishments, laughing and working side-by-side and over their sewing machines.

“We live here six months of the year. We feel close to the community. We feel close to the area and the people. They’ve welcomed us. They’ve made us feel good. They’ve given us an opportunity to come here where other places have not been so welcoming,” Annette explained. “We want to give back to the community what they’ve given us. We feel that’s just being a part of living here.”

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