“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another” (Erma Bombeck).
With the events of this past year, compassion and love have been greatly appreciated and needed in communities everywhere. Willing Hearts and Hands is one group that has been a major blessing to Clarke County and other places all over Mississippi. The group was started by Brenda Dearman and Shirley Taylor because they just wanted to be able to do what they could to help make a difference for all those around them.
“God had put this on our hearts years before we were actually able to get started over here,” explained Brenda Dearman. “I think God has blessed us greatly with all the ladies’ contributions, the fabrics, and everything that we do. We depend on God for everything.”
As blessed as they have been, they make a point to be a blessing to the community. In fact, they helped out with masks at the beginning of the pandemic last year.
“For us, 2020 was the mask year,” stated Shirley Taylor. “We made and donated over 1500 masks to first responders, grocery store personnel, medical personnel, school personnel, and other essential workers. We were grateful for all the donations during the mask time.”
Although they worked on masks for the majority of 2020, Willing Hearts and Hands has also done multiple other projects over the past year. They make quilts for multiple organizations, and most of their projects are on-going.
“We’ve donated quilts to Son Valley, a home for mentally challenged adults in Canton, MS, and the Ellisville State School extensions in Sumrall and Waynesboro, MS,” said Brenda. “We’ve also sent quilts to Hope Village for Children and Dwell, a traditional housing community for women. The Clarke County Sheriff’s Department gets quilts from us to keep in the police vehicles in case they are needed for different things. We work with the FFA chapter in Clarkdale, MS. They make bunk beds for underprivileged children who currently have no bed. We partnered with them to provide a quilt for each bed they build.”
The group is currently working on a big project and will soon begin working on another project for a new organization coming to Laurel.
“We are currently in the process of making 12 quilts for teens at Sunnybrook Children’s Home in Ridgeland, MS,” expressed Brenda. “We’ll soon start on 12 quilts for Missing Piece, a new organization in Laurel, MS, that plans to begin receiving residents in August that have been rescued from human trafficking.”
Quilts aren’t the only thing they sew to help benefit others. They have been known to do other projects, such as making fidget mats for autistic children, wheelchair/walker bags for adult day cares and nursing homes, gowns for the NICU at Meridian hospitals, angel gowns for the NICU at Meridian hospitals, seat belt cushions for breast cancer chemo patients, pillowcases for the St. Jude affiliate in Huntsville, AL, and pillowcases for Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, MS.
They make sure to use everything, from fabric scraps to left over thread scraps, so that nothing goes to waste. In fact, they recently made multiple dog pillows for Creature Comforts Animal Shelter by using the scraps from various projects.
Everything they send away is always made and sent off with love.
“Before anything we make ever leaves this building,” said Brenda, “we always gather around it, and our mother prays over whatever it is to ask God to bless whoever receives it.”
As a nonprofit organization, Willing Hearts and Hands only functions off donations. They have made a huge impact on the community since they started, and as long as they are still open, they plan to continue to be a blessing to those around them. They invite anyone who would like to do anything to help – from ironing fabrics to sewing – to come.
Anyone who is interested in making a donation to Willing Hearts and Hands can do one of the following things:
Personally deliver the donation to them at 119 North Archusa Ave. in Quitman, or mail a donation to P.O. Box 283, Quitman, MS 39355.