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Sew on Fire - Bags of Love from Burlington
No less than 150,000 gift bags have gone with mission teams all over the world since Wendy Hagar launched the Sew on Fire compassion ministry ten years ago.

Wendy Hagar of Burlington, Ontario, is "sew" busy giving! Some say it’s the best kept secret in Burlington, but for ten years, Wendy has been working long hours to help the less privileged and orphaned in Canada and around the world.

Children with gift bags in Nepal.

Since Wendy launched Sew on Fire Ministries on February 6, 2000, hundreds of groups and volunteers across Canada have joined her to sew, crochet and knit gift items, baby blankets, overalls, mittens, nightgowns, skirts and t-shirts.

She combines these items in bags with school supplies, treats and personal care items, and gives them free of charge to mission teams that hand-deliver to those in need.

How did it start? When Wendy heard a missionary at her church, compassion for the poor whose plight he described, overwhelmed her. Longing to make a difference in their lives, she decided to knit 100 mittens, sew 100 pajamas and 100 drawstring bags, and fill them with gifts for children in a Russian orphanage.

The decision was nerve wracking. She hated sewing!

But an amazing thing happened. When she made the commitment, "Passion spread everywhere. People asked me why I was buying so much fabric, toys and school supplies. Right away they got involved. Our house became a manufacturing plant!"

Wendy Hagar

Four months later, instead of 100 gift bags, 1,725 went to Kyrgyzstan. Since then schools, Brownies, kids clubs, Rotary, hockey teams, women’s groups and church groups have become involved. Companies, like Werthers, Colgate, Trebor Allen and Irwin Toys donate skids of products. Cash donations come from individuals, companies, and fundraising events.

One company contributed $30,000 in shoes. Friends gave sergers and sewing machines. Even the Canadian Air Force volunteered and flew 6,000 bags to Nicaragua.

Wendy’s bustling warehouse is at 975 Fraser Drive, Unit 4. To date she has sent 160,000 bags of God’s love to refugees, orphans, widows, single moms, children who scavenge garbage dumps and the homeless. Sew on Fire has also sent containers of about 100,000 other humanitarian aid items like bikes, blankets, shoes, books, clothing, wheel chairs, crutches, medical supplies, fabric and sewing machines with other groups. Shipments have gone to 90 countries and 30 Canadian cities. Haiti received nine in February and March.

You can help too. For more information please visit www.sewonfire.com, e-mail whagar@cogeco.ca or call 905-333-5722.

A 10-year anniversary celebration for Sew on Fire will be held on May 1, 2010.

Daina Doucet is a writer and editor based in Hamilton, Ontario. She edits The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s website, www.Christianity.ca.

Originally published in Member of Parliament Mike Wallace’s Upfront newsletter, Winter 2010.

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