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Christmas stockings a labor of love for Wood County woman

Kay Hill has made more than 500 Christmas stockings over the years, most donated to the Old Man Rivers food mission to hold gifts for children for Christmas. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

MINERAL WELLS –Making Christmas stockings is a labor of love for Kay Hill, who each year sews dozens that are donated to the Old Man Rivers food mission.

“Yes it is,” said Hill, a member of the Country Roads and Wood County CEOS organizations.

Hill has been sewing Christmas stockings for Old Man Rivers for more than 20 years. She has help from others in the CEOS, including Sheryl Carpenter, who helps sew.

But it’s Hill who is the main maker, spending an hour or more to produce a stocking from the myriad of cloth and other materials she keeps in store. She has help from other CEOS members who find materials at various places, including yard sales. Many times a husband will donate their deceased wife’s cache, she said.

Anyone who wants to donate cloth is encouraged to call her at 304 489-3630.

Selecting complementing colors and patterns is important in making an attractive Christmas stocking, Kay Hill said. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

She works with her three-legged cat in her living room where her sewing machine, which she named Motel, a poor tailor in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” sits on a card table. It’s convenient in the living room, Hill said.

“So I can watch my TV,” she said.

Materials vary and are contrasted for the most pleasing combinations. Preferring 100 percent cotton, she uses old bedding, old clothing and curtains or tapestries.

“No knits,” she said. “I hate to sew knits.”

November is a peak production month for Hill when she puts the hammer and needle down on her sewing machine. She has one pattern from which all the stockings are made.

A few of the brightly decorated Christmas stockings Kay Hill has made. The stockings are donated to the Old Man Rivers food mission, which fills them with goodies for children on Christmas. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

“This is production sewing,” Hill said.

The stockings, which will be delivered to Old Man Rivers on Dec. 21, are much appreciated, Jeanette Pursley of Old Man Rivers said.

“Very much so,” she said.

In addition to things like tooth brushes and other items for hygiene, socks, hats and gloves, stockings are filled with things based on the gender of the teens, Pursley said. For example, girls will get perfume and boys will get razors, she said.

The kids appreciate the stockings, she said.

Colors and materials are carefully paired for the Christmas stockings Kay Hill makes for the Old Man Rivers food mission. After she picks the materials, Hill sews them on her sewing machine, which she has on a table in her living room. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

The staff at Old Man Rivers also is aided in filling the stockings by students in the Parkersburg High School Key Club, Pursley said. The students generally are available to help when they’re needed, she said.

“They’re a great bunch of kids,” she said.

Hill credits her late mother, Lena Young, with her attitude of helping people who are less fortunate. Her mother, Hill said, would offer someone struggling with a meal or clothing.

“She was always doing things like that,” Hill said.

It was her mother in law, who got her interested in sewing and who bought Hill her first sewing machine. She and her husband, Jim, who died four years ago, were married for 47 years.

Kay Hill poses with a finished Christmas stocking. It takes about an hour or more to make one. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

Hill estimates over the years she has made more than 500 stockings, some for kids and grandkids. She has also made stockings for domestic violence shelters for the parents with young children, but most go to Old Man Rivers.

And there’s no quid pro quo with Hill.

She doesn’t ask for a receipt for income tax purposes. That would defeat the reason to give something to help someone, Hill said.

“Then it’s not really donating,” Hill said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

Kay Hill in her living room working on a Christmas stocking at her sewing machine, which she named Motel after the poor tailor in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Hill makes and donates dozens of stockings for the Old Man Rivers food mission that are filled with goodies for children on Christmas. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

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