Crafty volunteer's prized creations benefit seniors

December 16, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

At 81, Billie Clopper continues to knit, bake, paint and stitch the edibles, arts and crafts she has contributed for raffles at Coffman Nursing Home's annual Christmas bazaar for nearly 30 years.

Proceeds from the sale of raffle tickets for Clopper's cakes, wreaths, quilts, afghans, sweaters, ceramics, stuffed toy lambs and needlepoint works have long been used, in part, to help pay the winners of the weekly Bingo games Clopper has helped run at the Hagerstown nursing home for decades, she said.


Clopper generally spends between five and eight hours each week at Coffman. She started volunteering at the nursing home with other members of Grace United Methodist Church in about 1976 because she wanted to stay active in the community after retiring from her job as a seamstress, she said.

"She's just wonderful," said Coffman activities director Janine Clipp, who recalled an entire needlepoint village Clopper donated for one year's raffle.

Clopper painted a pair of holiday steins and baked a cake for this year's event, Clipp said.

"I love doing craft work and like doing a little something for the people who don't have," said Clopper, who lives in Maugansville. "Some of those folks in the home I've known for years and years."

Clopper tries to "adopt" four nursing home residents each holiday season, crafting special gifts for them and including $5 in each of their Christmas cards, she said.

Clopper spends much of the year creating the crafts that fill her home and find their way to Coffman. Her couches are lined with her needlepoint pillows and hand-knitted afghans. A sweater-in-progress protrudes from a plastic bin. Ceramic Christmas trees light a corner table.

An elegant popcorn-stitch crocheted quilt covers her bed. Latchhook rugs decorate floors, and intricate cross-stitched designs fill frames throughout the house.

"I have too much so I have to give some away. And if I give it away, I don't have to put it away," she said, laughing.

Others may think of her a Christmas angel, but Clopper doesn't consider her altruistic efforts worthy of accolades, she said. She loves to stitch and hook and paint and knit - hobbies that relax her and exercise her arthritic hands.

"These are just little things that I do, small ways I can pitch in," she said. "No halos, please."

Monday: Lelia Boudreauz, San Mar Children's Home angel.

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