‘It’s quite overwhelming:’ Local sewing shops pleasantly surprised at response to blanket drive for Afghan refugees

Local News

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – “The door just kept on dinging and people just kept on streaming in,” Mikey Stencil, who owns Life’s a Stitch sewing shop with her husband, John said. “It became very overwhelming, very fast.”

An overwhelming amount of blankets, coming in faster than Mikey could count.

“We have way over a thousand blankets,” she adds. “We’re probably hitting close to like 2,000.”

All kinds of blankets, “new, used blankets, afghans, quilts,” Mikey lists, all delivered to the shop after they decided to join Sew Smart in Wausau and Barn Door Quilt Shop in Sturgeon Bay in collecting blankets for Afghan refugees currently being housed at Fort McCoy.

Wednesday afternoon, Mikey and John packed up a truck, a 14-foot trailer, and an SUV for a road trip to Wausau.

“All we gotta do is hook up our trailer and we’re off,” explains John. “We’re off to Wausau and then it gets distributed from there down to Fort McCoy.”

John says a lot has gone into the operation so far, “It’s been a lot of work,” he told Local 5. “I’ve been running, I’ve been really busy.”

The couple is planning on taking a second trip to Wausau on Sept. 17.

They’ve already got a lot of blankets.

“We didn’t expect this many contributions coming in,” says John. “It’s quite overwhelming.”

There are items other than blankets they’re looking for, “If they can donate diapers, new socks in packages or new undergarments in packages,” Mikey explains.

For now, the blankets they’ve packed up will help provide warmth, both literally, “It’s going to be getting cooler,” says John. “They’re probably not used to the cool weather that we’re going to be getting here.”

They’re also hoping the blankets will provide warmth to the refugees symbolically, “For them to have that warmth, to have that color, you know, these blankets are beautiful,” Mikey adds. “Especially the quilts and the afghans that I’ve seen, and to also have something that’s homemade. I think that is just another beautiful touch that we can offer.

Mikey says they’re hoping to prove the rumors about the midwest true. “Everyone says people in the midwest are really nice and I just think that it confirms that.”

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