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Crafty Jets sewing up help for disaster, crisis survivors

The Crafty Jets at James Clemens made 'Tornado Totes' for residents of Moore, Okla. "I love the tote in the front -- 'Someone will always care,'" Sherri Shamwell said.
The Crafty Jets at James Clemens made ‘Tornado Totes’ for residents of Moore, Okla. “I love the tote in the front — ‘Someone will always care,'” Sherri Shamwell said.

MADISON – The Crafty Jets at James Clemens High School are using handy skills to help individuals in crisis.

The sewing club “encourages students to make handmade or hand-painted items, sell them and use profits to donate things to local charities,” founder Sherri Shamwell said. She teaches family and consumer sciences classes.

The Crafty Jets’ first project was “Tornado Totes” with handwritten notes of encouragement for residents of Moore, Okla. after devastating tornado damage. The James Clemens club also collected items to pack in the totes.

Transferring from Discovery Middle School, Shamwell took advantage of suggesting new clubs for James Clemens. “I wanted a place where kids could learn to sew or craft while, at the same time, learning important life skills like brainstorming, planning, following through, advertising, marketing and selling,” she said.

“Every student has a talent that he or she can use to help others,” Shamwell said. She hopes the students’ skills will return “a sense of fulfillment while also giving back to the community.”

Mutually beneficial, the club allows Shamwell to mentor and know students on a different level. “You learn about a child’s struggles in this environment,” she said.

Years ago at Discovery, Shamwell founded Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).”A student made a comment that stuck with me. She said that anyone could be a member of SADD because it wasn’t dependent on grades (or other requirements). I hope the Crafty Jets will be the same kind of club … you just need to want to help others and be willing to teach or learn a craft to (join),” Shamwell said.

Hopefully, male students will join. “After all, many famous artists are male,” she said. She has plenty of ideas to involve students interested in woodworking.

This summer, the Crafts Jets are working on crafts to sell at football games and festivals. The club will donate items or money to local teen shelters or organizations like Ronald McDonald House. “The possibilities are endless,” Shamwell said.

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