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20121213 Greengate-Grove-A-park-giving IMG 0643 FEATUREWalking into the hall at Green Gate Grove RV Park in Mission, it almost looked like Santa’s workshop, buzzing with working Winter Texan ladies. These women are the Green Bees Quilters, and just like Santa’s elves, they’re prepping for Christmas.

“We like to do a community service project each year,” said Annette Sweet, head of the Green Bees. “This is our pet project. Each year we make handmade quilts and collect non-perishable food, new clothes and new toys to donate to this project.”

“We do this for the Proyecto Desarrollo Humano (Project for Human Development) in Peñitas,” said Paula Baldwin, a guest quilter from Bentsen Grove and good friend of Sweet. “The community center is run by Catholic sisters who are part of a missionary sisterhood, with missions all over the world. Seven years ago they had no building – just a dream. Now they have a lovely building and a place we can take our gifts.”

Sweet explained the clothes, gifts and Christmas boxes are given to families that are truly in need.

“Our first year, three years ago, we donated 90 quilts and had three van loads of food, toys and gifts to take out there,” she said. “Last year, we had 95 quilts and this year we’ve already made 100 quilts.

The women are able to fund their project and materials with a quilt show they hold annually. This year, their quilt show will be held on Feb. 5, 2013.

Finding out about the project came through Baldwin.

“My husband and I volunteer in Peñitas, teaching English as a second language, helping people obtain their GEDs and doing repairs for the people in the colonia, the Sisters and the community center,” Baldwin said. “We told Annette and the Green Bees about it and they decided to take it on as their project. These Green Bees are some of the nicest people you could ever find. They are lovely, supportive women.”

20121218 Quilting Green Gate Grove RV Park 001Sweet said their first and foremost effort is in fellowship.

“We’re here to support one another. Secondly is we love to have lunch,” Sweet said with a laugh. “We’re very good cooks. Then comes the quilting and then the community service.”

During their time in the Rio Grande Valley, the Green Bees have learned new techniques and started new projects.

“We quilt all year. We do a lot and donate a lot,” Sweet said. “We’ve even made incubator covers for one of the hospital’s neo-natal units. We average about 40 women during December to March, working almost every Tuesday.”

The women are proud of their accomplishments. They laugh and work side-by-side and over their sewing machines.

“We feel close to the community,” Sweet said. “They’ve given us an opportunity to come here where other places have not been so welcoming. We want to give back to the community what they’ve given us. We feel that’s just being a part of living here.”

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