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Hillside Elementary School Continues Long-Standing Senior Sewing Tradition

girl-wih-sewn-toyNora, a third grader at Hillside Elementary School, sat amongst her classmates, weaving a needle and thread along the seams of a red, felt toucan.

With the help of Hastings-on-Hudson resident Joan Kennedy, bit by bit, Nora closed up the toucan's last hole of stuffing. Nora is learning how to sew a stuffed animal at ‘Sew Can You,’ a PTSA-sponsored program known as ‘Senior Sewing.’

Senior citizens in the Hastings community devote their time on Thursday mornings to sew with Hillside students and their families. Each Hillside class participates in the program once a year and every grade level makes a different stuffed animal. 

The day’s activity has begun, and all third graders are making stuffed toucans. Teacher Beth Margalit walked around the room.

"Don't forget to write your toucan's name on the card," she said, instructing her students. 

Nora located her card and began to think of a name for her toucan. Having never learned how to sew before, she is especially excited.

"I didn't know how to sew and now I do!" Nora exclaimed. 

YOu can sew logo mark

A longtime tradition, Senior Sewing began in 1973 as a way to bring the benefits of sewing to Hillside students. Since then, the PTSA has continued the tradition with classes that help children improve their communication and motor skills, follow instructions, use their imagination and creativity, and develop patience.

Additionally, creating something from scratch boosts student confidence. The added bonus: Senior Sewing connects Hillside’s youngest learners to the community.

"I learned about it from one of my friends. She told me, 'You have to come to Hillside!' and I've been coming ever since," said Kennedy who has been participating for 16 years. "I missed it during Covid because I enjoy the children. They are all so sweet and smart."

Susan Loveley, mother of an eighth grader at Farragut Middle School, has facilitated the program for seven years, beginning when her child was a student at Hillside.

"We are always looking for parent volunteers," she said. "It really is a wonderful experience."

kids at tables sewing stuffed toysThird graders will bring home stuffed toucans. The other grades will make dogs, kittens and bears.

"We resumed Senior Sewing after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19," said Hillside Principal Amy Cazes. "Now that it's back, it has been SEW wonderful to see the children sewing and smiling with the seniors."

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Loveley at In addition, teachers may ask for family volunteers to assist with their visit to Sew Can You. Please look for this invitation from your classroom teacher.