Note from Nancy
This story appeared in the September 2002 issue of Sew News, part of a monthly series by Gail Brown called, appropriately, “From the Heart.”

Sixteen-year old twins, Lacee and Lenzee Bilke, maintain an arduous schedule of orchestra rehearsals and performances, 4-H club activities and homework. But somehow, these identical Edmond, OK teens make time to sew for and serve others.

“Sewing is our love—we started when we were just seven—and we seek out any way we can to put our skills to good use.” These generous girls are bolstered in their efforts by pro-sewing parents and a fun-loving 4-H leader who “rips out our mistakes.” Plus, they’re fully equipped, with their own machines, housed in a “huge sewing room.”

Called to action by a needy world, Lacee and Lenzee stitched a hundred-block quilt for an infant crisis center, small fabric hearts for children traumatized by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and custom-designed “closing-ceremony” bags for The Kids’ Place.

Latest on the twins’ list of philanthropic projects are baby blankets and layettes for the “Joyful Beginnings Unit” of Oklahoma City’s St. Anthony Hospital. “They told us that so many babies go home in a pillowcase. We knew we had to do something…we feel this way about volunteering. To receive is wonderful, but to give of your heart is priceless.”

How to find, organize and motivate teens: First, identify needs by contacting area shelters, senior centers, hospitals and churches. An extensive list of charities, needs and projects are featured online; go to “Resources” and “Story Book” on this site.

Find willing volunteers through school home economics/consumer science departments, 4-H clubs, Boy and Girl Scout troops, YMCAs and church youth groups. Tailor the project to the skill level, from never-sewn-before to more accomplished. Possibilities include simple soft toys, baby blankets and layettes, basic quilts, totes, lap robes, head covers and toiletry totes.

Motivation won’t be difficult—teens want to make a difference—particularly if they can visualize, empathize, and even meet, those whom they serve.