Ten-year-old Lucy Crouse has a heart for helping others.
She’s the type of kid who insists on putting together snack-packs for homeless people after seeing someone holding a sign saying they were hungry. She gets sad if someone drops something and they pick it up before she has the chance to do it for them.
“She’s really happiest when she’s doing things for someone else,” said Holly Crouse, Lucy’s mom.
So as she honed her sewing skills, it seemed only natural that she would find a way to use her new talents to help others. Earlier this month, Lucy and her mom dropped off a couple dozen quilts Lucy made for clients in the nonprofit Second Step Housing program. The delivery brought Lucy’s total blanket donation for the year to 105.
Lucy also dropped off 54 “stuffies” and 30 pocket pillows for Second Step Housing’s holiday gift shop. Clients can choose the stuffed animals and pillows with pockets on them as gifts for their children.
“I sew a piece of my heart into everything I sew,” Lucy said.
While Lucy loves to spread kindness, she hasn’t always received it. Lucy and her older sister have autism.
“She knows what it’s like to not be included,” Crouse said. “So it’s special to me that she wants to be kind to others.”
“A little kindness goes a long way,” Crouse added.
Lucy learned about Second Step Housing through her dentist office, Adventure Dental. The Salmon Creek dental office holds an annual donation drive during the holidays for the nonprofit. Lucy had been trying to find an organization that needed blankets. Second Step, which provides affordable permanent and transitional housing to people who are homeless or low-income, was eager to partner with her.
Second Step Housing gives the blankets to every child, and some adults, who moves into the transitional housing program.
“They’re like her welcoming hug,” said Mary Hopkins, resource development specialist for Second Step.
“It’s that extra-special human touch,” she added. “We’re able to help them feel comfortable and welcome and get them started on the next step of their journey.”
A ‘better place to live’
Lucy has not only spent the last year sewing, she’s also been working hard to raise money to fund the operation, which she named Lucy’s Stitched Hugs.
Lucy made and sold about three dozen pies to family and friends before Thanksgiving. For Christmas and her birthday in May, she asked only for fabric to make more quilts. She also sold some of her Lego collection, and her mom started a GoFundMe account, www.gofundme.com/lucysstitchedhugs. She was recently honored as a Kid Hero by GoFundMe — a distinction that came with a $1,000 donation to her account.
Most of the money raised has already been used to buy fabric and batting. Lucy plans to make Lucy’s Stitched Hugs an ongoing effort. Her mom hopes to find a sponsor to make the project more sustainable.
Earlier this month, the staff at Adventure Dental surprised Lucy with a fabric donation. Rather than a traditional employee holiday party, the pediatric dental office celebrated 11 of its patients with special needs.
“We wanted to celebrate these kids who sometimes aren’t celebrated,” said Dr. Todd Hillyard, Lucy’s dentist.
A handful of employees showed up at Lucy’s house on Dec. 9 with a stack of fabric and a bag of Dum Dum suckers — Lucy’s go-to “sewing suckers.”
Hillyard, who has a son with autism, was moved by Lucy’s passion to help others, particularly the teenagers who are often overlooked.
“The whole world needs to be like Lucy,” Hillyard said. “Because if we were all like Lucy, this would be a much better place to live.”