Local couple give back by way of free masks and walking sticks
Waste is relative. One man's trash is another man's treasure — so they say. Forest Grove's Norma Hill recently took that adage to heart, taking year's of leftover fabric from even more year's of past projects and donated them to a good cause.
No, it wasn't the raw material that carried value, but rather what she made from it that mattered. Hill — who for years has volunteered her time to the Forest Grove Senior Center — made masks. Lots of them. In fact, with decades worth of "waste" sitting around her home, the Forest Grove resident sewed 1,500 masks.
"When it was announced that everyone should start wearing masks, there weren't a lot of places to find masks," said Norma. "Everyone pretty much had to figure out how to make or find their own. I had the fabric, found a pattern online and thought I would make a few and give them away."
For years, Norma and her husband Larry participated in the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire as vendors, selling clothing and hand-carved walking sticks out of a cart she found at an antique store. Upon the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, Norma placed the masks, along with some of her husband Larry's walking sticks, in the cart which they rolled out in front of their house. All was to be free, but Larry, who volunteers his time driving a truck for Meals On Wheels, suggested they relay any donations to the local Forest Grove chapter, and they were off.
"We've been volunteers at the Forest Grove Senior Center for years and Larry fills in as a Meals on Wheels driver," Norma said. "We put out a little sign asking people to make a donation to Meals On Wheels if they took a mask or a walking stick. Some people gave, some didn't. We weren't judgmental. Our goal was to help people by providing masks and to raise a little money for a charity we love."
Rayann Warnke, Meals On Wheels Forest Grove Center Manager, had nothing but good things to say about both Norma and Larry Hill in regards to both their most recent donation, along with the time they continue to and have invested over the years.
"The donation from the Hills is particularly needed right now and we are so appreciative of their gift," Warnke said. "They're amazing people."
Warnke said that demand for their products and services has increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic, and that they're delivering 60 percent more meals this year than at the same time in 2019, but consequently the number of volunteers has grown as well. With more people out of work, and people able to do fewer things in the midst of the current environment, there's seemingly been an increase in people's desire to help.
Helping isn't something new for the Hills however, but what was a surprise to the couple was what they were able to raise from their mask and walking stick venture. In just six weeks they received $3,300 for Meals On Wheels — not bad for a house full of idle fabric.
"We were shocked," Norma said. "We just started out wanting to help people get the masks they needed and have been amazed at how generous people have been."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.