MASON CITY, Iowa - It may be hard to believe, Christmas is less than 6 weeks away.
For those who are in a tough situation like recovering from surgery or illness, or are homeless, it can feel like a bleak time of year.
But for one day each year, a group of volunteers at Maggie's Sewing Center are cutting fabric and sewing stockings that will be donated to provide some holiday joy.
When the initiative began around a decade ago, the stockings were made for those at YSS Francis Lauer. And the volunteers were only Pat Atherton, the wife of Maggie's Sewing Center owner Roger Atherton, and their two daughters.
"When I first realized that at Francis Lauer, they didn't go home for Christmas. They didn't go to relatives, they didn't go home, they stayed out there. My daughters and I made some stockings to donate to them so they can have stockings for Christmas morning."
At first, only 10 stockings were made. Since then, the number of stockings being made, and the places being donated to, have expanded.
"We've added on the [Northern Lights] Men's and Women's shelters, and Crisis Intervention [Services]."
In addition, they've been collecting donations for stocking stuffers, like candy, mittens, socks, soaps and hygiene products, and other gifts inside. And more volunteers are offering their time to cut and sew.
"We've been able to have so much more help that we can have so many more stockings and expand the number of places we can donate to," Pat's daughter Molly says.
In addition to North Iowa, she's helped expand the donated stockings to places like MercyOne Children's Hospital in Des Moines and ChildServe in Johnston.
"No matter what situation someone is unfortunately in over the holidays, to give them a little bit of hope and little bit of the holiday spirit."
But in order to make this possible, donations are key. Recently, Thrivent Financial pitched in a $250 gift card.
"That can be used towards a charity event or a fundraiser event. They're helping us with the purchase of fabric and stocking stuffers."
For the last two years, 150 stockings were made. This year, they beat their goal, with 210 being donated this season.