Magnolia Manor resident finds joy in sewing, serving

11/5/2018

By Kara Witherow, Editor

Charlotte Petty loves to sew. The Magnolia Manor of St. Simons Island resident has been sewing and creating “all her life” and finds joy and fulfilment in crafting handmade items and helping others.

She sees value in everything, never throwing away a scrap of yarn or piece of fabric.

“My motto is ‘Waste not, want not,’ so if I see a use for something, I do it,” she said.

Another of her guiding principles is “See a need, meet a need.” While perhaps unspoken, that philosophy directs her life and how she spends her time.

After her husband died in 1988, she began volunteering at senior living communities, serving in the geriatric care areas. She sews ditty bags for the International Seafarers’ Center in Brunswick, Ga. and book bags for a local church. She fixes residents’ dresses and mends hems. She makes drawstring bags out of old comforters, knits hot pads and colorful can coolers out of leftover yarn, and decorates cards. Every Wednesday, she sells those items plus basic toiletries, other necessities, and snacks out of a portable cart she calls “Courtesy Shoppe.” All proceeds go into Magnolia Manor’s resident fund, which covers needed items for residents.

Her biggest project to date, however, has been making 34 hurricane evacuation bags for Magnolia Manor residents to use in the event of a hurricane evacuation. The bags, made from old bedspreads, are 29” wide, 16” high, and 5” deep, and can hold a three-day supply of clothing, toiletries, and other necessary supplies for each resident.

Petty and Magnolia Manor Maintenance Director Penny Lynch came up with the idea after about 30 residents had to be evacuated from Magnolia Manor’s St. Simons Island campus last year during Hurricane Irma. Then, residents who evacuated to Magnolia Manor’s Americus campus packed their necessities in paper gift bags, but afterwards Lynch remembered the old bedspreads and asked Petty to help refashion them into useful tote bags.

“Suitcases are bulky and we only have so much room in the vehicles,” Lynch said. “They can put three days’ worth of clothes and everything else that they need in these bags and they’re soft and squishy so we can stack them a lot better. We can get 30 of these in the back of a bus where we could only get 10 suitcases.”

Lynch has a secondary motive for making the bags.

“Hopefully, God willing, this is going to deter the hurricanes. I hope!”

Petty just has a passion for sewing and serving.

“I feel that the Lord has brought me here for a reason,” she said. “I want to serve in whatever way I can. I get the most satisfaction out of serving and helping and doing what I can.”

Watch how Magnolia Manor has prepared all eight campuses for disasters and emergencies