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Mooncrest Students Learn Valuable Life Skills and Spread Holiday Cheer

When the cold weather moved recess at the Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs indoors, the staff found some creative ways to keep the kids busy while teaching valuable life skills.

Using upcycled materials, students in grades 3 and up began making simple holiday gifts for family, friends, and teachers. For the first project, they created glass votives by painting or decoupaging yogurt jars. They got an extra treat when Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School alumna Katie Dickey stopped in to lead the students in painting a snowy holiday scene on small canvases.

“However,” noted Program Director Theresa Long, “as pretty as the painting projects have been, by far, sewing stuffed animals has been the biggest hit of skill-based crafting!”

Using a free pattern, Warren the Charity Bear, the students chose pieces of donated fleece to personalize their bears and got to work. In the process, they learned how to follow a pattern, thread a needle, cut and pin fabric, stuff their creations, and complete simple stitches.

went through a bin of donated fleece, students selected colors, designs and textures to personalize their bears. Using a free downloaded pattern named Warren the Charity Bear, students learned the process of following a pattern. 

According to Theresa, participants lovingly worked on their new friends. What was supposed to be a one-time project became an “obsession” according to Sue McDonald who mentors students in grades 3 and up. MNP’s first stuffy went home in time for Thanksgiving; since then, more than a dozen others have followed and more are in progress.

Each day, the kids are eager to sew during their free time. “It’s nice to see them sewing,” said Theresa. “Their enthusiasm for this craft is exciting and their skills improve with each creation. Overall, this project has been beneficial to the creators, receivers, and those of us partaking in the process. It has helped to lift spirits and to keep us focused on others during this season of giving.”

Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs is a ministry of the Felician Sisters of North America located in Moon Township, PA, that provides food resources, remote learning support, immigration assistance, access to healthcare, after school programming, community events, and referrals to social services. To learn more, visit their website at