- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - Two Hastings women have teamed up to bring holiday joy to the less fortunate this season through handmade stockings.

Rashell Hillis and Susan Hoit plan to deliver 300 stockings to disabled or elderly individuals for Christmas, the Hastings Tribune reported.

The material for the stockings came from Hillis’ mother, who died in January. Hillis told the Hastings Tribune she had a lot of extra material and Hoit volunteered to sew it into Christmas stockings.

Hoit hasn’t been able to work full time because of a back injury this year so she volunteered to sew the material into stockings in her spare time. She started around Easter and finished at the beginning of December.

“It kinda felt good to be out there doing something,” Hoit said. “It’s nice to be able to help.”

Hoit met Hillis in December2013. They met as Hillis delivered about 150 stockings to disabled individuals last year.

Hillis, a caregiver for disabled individuals, said she has a special place in her heart for people with special needs.

Last year, she had taken clients to a thrift store and saw a batch of inexpensive stockings. She decided to buy the lot because she thought it would be neat to pass them out for the holidays.

After filling them with goodies, Hillis went to several living complexes in the city designated for disabled or elderly individuals and distributed the stockings.

Hillis said she was inspired by the actions of her mother. She said her mother went out of her way to help people, and Hillis wanted to follow her example.

“That’s the meaning of Christmas - to give, not take,” she said. “I learned that from my mom.”

One of her stops was to Hoit’s husband, who is disabled. Hoit also had a disabled son who died five years ago around Christmas.

Hoit was impressed by Hillis’ gesture.

“I thought, ‘It’s a really good thing Shelly was doing,’ ” Hoit said. “I know if my son was around, he would have appreciated something like this.”

Hoit asked if there was any way she could help and kept in touch with Hillis. Around Easter, she asked Hillis about passing out stockings for Christmas. Hillis mentioned the extra material after her mother’s death and Hoit volunteered to sew it into stockings to distribute.

Hillis became emotional when she saw the designs Hoit had crafted from her mother’s material.

“I about cried,” she recalled.

With the stockings crafted, the next step is to fill them in time for Christmas. Calling themselves Stuffers101, Hillis and Hoit would appreciate any donations to help fill the stockings. They have some items but would like to include more. Donation ideas include puzzle books, candy, lotions, small stuffed animals or other trinkets. For more information or to make a donation, contact Hillis at 402-519-8194 or Hoit at 402-519-0250.

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Information from: Hastings Tribune, https://www.hastingstribune.com

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