Featured in the Gainesville Sun

Scissors in hand, Sarah Lentz delicately maneuvers her slender fingers to snip away knotted thread jammed in her embroidery machine.

The device, as big as her 9-year-old torso, embroiders whatever she programs it to.

And since last Saturday, the needle has repeatedly been sewing the same three words: “Hope,” “Love” and “Caring.”

The third-grade student and her mother, Laura Lentz, said they decided to help homeless people in Gainesville by donating embroidered blankets during the recent chilly temperatures.

“I’m donating (the blankets) because I don’t want (homeless people) outside in the cold,” said the Millhopper Montessori student. “They’d rather have one (blanket) than nothing.”

Laura Lentz said she came up with the idea after checking The Gainesville Sun Web site last Saturday night on her iPhone. She read a story about the increasing demand for warm clothing and blankets for homeless people given the severely cold weather.

“I always read stories about community service opportunities to the kids,” she said.

Susie Long runs the sewing studio at Millhopper Montessori and said she had been wanting to create a project like this to serve the community.

Sarah attends both sewing classes that Long offers weekly.

“It’s her favorite part of the week,” Laura Lentz said.

“I told Sarah she can come to both days because she’s my assistant,” Long said.

Laura Lentz holds up a customized bag Sarah made as a casserole holder – an example of the unique projects the children work on.

“Our neighbor wants one, too,” she said.

Wanting to distribute the blankets as quickly as possible, Sarah began work on collecting and embroidering blankets on Sunday. Family and friends gave her blankets, and her mother changed her Facebook status to seek more donations.

With 16 blankets, Sarah and the nine other elementary school girls worked hastily Wednesday afternoon to have them ready for delivery that evening.

Sarah explained that the word “hope” represents faith that the blankets’ recipients will soon get jobs, “love” is for them to know that she loves them and “caring” symbolizes Sarah’s concern for their unfortunate situation.

Officially taking up sewing in the first grade, Sarah has been “sitting on laps sewing since she was 2 years old,” Laura Lentz said.

Although Lentz said she “can’t sew a lick,” the skill is a part of her daughter, like an innate ability.

The pastime also helps Sarah practice math skills by using rulers and rotary cutting tools.

The young seamstress sews her own Halloween costumes (last year she was Betsy Ross), stitches quilts for family and friends and even hems her dad’s pants.

And for her birthday last month, her parents bought her the used embroidery machine she is using for this project, a $1,200 present from Santa that costs $6,000 brand new.

Sarah already has her eye on a fabric cutting machine but her mother said she’ll have to pay for that one herself.

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