Leah Hohenbrink poses with items she hand-made and had for sale at the COA in Van Wert. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Leah Hohenbrink poses with items she hand-made and had for sale at the COA in Van Wert. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Leah Hohenbrink’s eyes sparked on Friday as she relived the days when her grandmother wrapped arms of love around her and taught her how to sew. That was during the Great Depression times. Her grandfather had been killed by a train accident in 1924. In order to keep her family together and care for their needs, she learned to sew things to sell and provide clothing needs for her family.

“She taught me how to sew when I was a little girl,” said Hohenbrink. “She had an old machine that she used. That was a long time ago, but I’m still her granddaughter and I am still using the skills she gave to me.”

These days, Hohenbrink is creating Christmas clothing, dolls, stuffed animals and other holiday gifts with her special talents. Friday, she displayed an entire table of gifts and goodies at the Council on Aging. It gave her the opportunity to earn a small amount of cash she could use toward the purchase of Christmas. It also gave her the chance to create items that might intrigue others as gifts.

For 32 years, Van Wert’s Jerry Christner played the role of Santa Claus at schools, clubs, nursing homes and other places where Santa might snow up.

Thirty-years ago, Christner’s good friend, Deb Kutzli, had a three-year old son one day when the doorbell rang. The son ran and opened the door. There stood Santa Claus. The boy was stunned so much at the time that he ran and hid under the kitchen table and had to be coaxed out.

“We don’t even have a space for a garage sale these days, so we decided to come here and put our Santa Claus’ up for sale,” said Christner. “It’s a good way for somebody to buy Christmas presents and we get to visit with our friends.”

Administrator Kevin Matthews said that this the first time the council decided to try something of this nature.

“Many seniors are short on money to buy holiday stuff,” said Matthews. “This gives them the chance to make a couple of extra bucks and we give them a free lunch. It’s a nice social time for them. Many of the people are glad to be able to purchase gifts as well.”

Others, such as Linda Myers, brought gifts made through the embroidery method to the table. She specialized in aprons and table cloths.

“My grandma taught me to do this when I was six,” said Myers. “It still reminds me of her.”