Pathways students support Mary’s Meals by sewing

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Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

Pathways’ students are sewing for a solution to world hunger.

Pathways student Hailey Roering traces the pattern for Mary’s Meals pouches. Photos by Olivia Alveshere
Pathways student Hailey Roering traces the pattern for Mary’s Meals pouches. Photos by Olivia Alveshere

The eight students in the industrial sewing class, which is co-taught by Ann Hicks and Ellen Surbrook, are sewing pouches for Mary’s Meals, a global charity with a mission to feed children in poverty by providing meals at schools.

“Education plus food equals hope,” said Debra McPeck, career and techincal education coordinator at Pathways, an Anoka-Hennepin school within the Coon Rapids Family Center Mall serving 18- to 21-year-old special education students.

McPeck has volunteered with Mary’s Meals for several years and asked students if they might be interested in using fabric from Africa to make pouches to be distributed at a Mary’s Meals fundraiser and update to be held in Buffalo, Minnesota, in June. The pouches are intended to hold donations; $19.50 will feed a child for an entire school year.

Hicks, Surbrook and their students responded to McPeck’s request with a resounding yes in mid-January.

They work in an assembly line to cut material; sew the pouches, about the size of a hand; finish seams with the serger; sew on Velcro; and more.

“They’re so serious about it, and they’re so generous in their time,” McPeck said.

Joshua Swadner, a Pathways student who assists the industrial sewing class, was moved by a video the class watched about Mary’s Meals, he said.

“It was sad that there’s people in other countries that don’t have what we have,” he said.

It means a lot for him to work on this project and know that “what we do in these four walls doesn’t just stay in these four walls,” Swadner said.

Student Jessica Bennett said that sewing projects to benefit people in need means more than other work.

Bennett is joined in class by David Dzyubanyuk, Michelle Foster, Dylan Long, Kevin Phen, Hailey Roering and Kayla Templeton.

Students meet for an hour each weekday to sew.

Paraeducator Marilee Holm has watched students improve not only their sewing skills, but also their sense of community as they have put together pouches.

“It just feels so good,” she said.

To learn more about Mary’s Meals, visit www.marysmealsusa.org.

To make a donation or volunteer locally, contact McPeck at [email protected] or 763-442-1958.

“When you know that what you’re doing is helping humankind have a better life, that’s what feeds you,” she said.

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Dylan Long, Pathways student, traces the pattern for Mary’s Meals pouches in the school’s industrial sewing class. Measuring Velcro to a precise length, Pathways student David Dzyubanyuk works carefully. Pathways student Joshua Swadner, an assistant in the industrial sewing class, irons pouches that support Mary’s Meals. Students in Pathways’ industrial sewing class are sewing pouches to support Mary’s Meals. Pathways student Michelle Foster uses a seam ripper to remove some stitches. Ellen Surbrook, co-instructor of the Pathways industrial sewing class, observes student Jessica Bennett as she uses the serger.
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Ellen Surbrook, co-instructor of the Pathways industrial sewing class, observes student Jessica Bennett as she uses the serger.