Art of Aging: Seniors make soda tab handbags to support Salvation Army

WILMINGTON, Del. (WPVI) -- In Wilmington, there are group of seniors that have found a crafty way to give back during the holiday season.

Visit Wilmington's Salvation Army Senior Center on any Tuesday and Thursday and you'll find a group of women huddled around a table in the back.

It's a craft class, one that makes handbags by stringing together used soda can tabs.

The pocketbooks come in styles like the 'tab' and 'hobo.'

It took one of the ladies about 1,500 soda tabs and 50 hours to make a bag that costs $60 to purchase.

The goal is to raise money to help the Salvation Army do what it does, from feeding seniors breakfast and lunch to organizing activities that will keep their minds and bodies active.

Dorothy Wells of Wilmington says, "It helps me to calm my nerves and gives me something to do and look forward to."

"I'm a seamstress anyway. I like doing things with my hands," Maxine Hopkins of Wilmington said.

The ladies learned how to make the purses about six years ago. The sales bring in a couple of thousand dollars a year.

Making the bags costs virtually nothing. The soda tabs are donated.

"We have everybody under the sun saving tabs for us," Sylvia P. Holden, Director of the Salvation Army Senior Center, Wilmington, said.

Fabric stores give the ladies remnants and discontinued patterns to line the bags, and everyone saves their old buttons to use as clasps.

The only expense is the parachute chord used to string the tabs together.

Sylvia says, "With the leftover cord from the pocketbook, we can make custom sized bracelets for you."

And, they make necklaces too!

For the ladies, it's a chance to give back to the center that has given so much to them.

"I've been here 13 years and I love doing it. I can make something for the center, make something for myself, and for my children," said Maxine.

And, it's created a sewing circle style bond of friendship.

"Not only are they talking about the bags, they're getting the juiciest information of the day," Sylvia said with a laugh.

If you would like to purchase a bag, you can contact Wilmington's Salvation Army or order by phone, 302-472-0770.
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