Don’t they believe in angels?

Y’know Clarence… maybe you shouldn’t talk about angels around here…

Over seventy years ago, Frank Capra tossed that question at George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George brushed it aside, embarrassed, with a “sure, they believe in angels…” and Clarence shot back:

“Then why should they be surprised when they see one?”

Aren’t we all a little bit that way? We believe there’s good out there, we believe someone’s watching out for us, for our friends, for our neighbors, but when we’re actually faced with a shining example, we find ourselves disbelieving.

SPiN is blessed with angels all around our community, but unlike Clarence, there are two in particular who roll their eyes at these heavenly thoughts. Then of course they go on joyfully about the hard work of being angels.

They don’t have time for wings. Wings would just get in the way. Claire Vorauer (L) and Kathy Hawkes throw their energy into making totes and aprons, from donated animal feed bags from all over Whidbey Island.

The idea came from SPiN Treasurer Karola Cornelius, who raises farm animals and wanted a way to repurpose all the feed bags — and raise support and awareness for SPiN at the same time.

How many have these angels made?

“I stopped counting at 800, some time during the first year,” says Claire, with Kathy nodding agreement. After a little over two years on the project, each woman estimates about two thousand apiece.

They hand their craftwork over to SPiN’s ubervolunteer June Zacharias, who sells them at the Coupeville Farmers’ Market and elsewhere around Whidbey to support SPiN’s mission.

At ten bucks each, that’s about forty thousand dollars to SPiN and the guests we serve. So far.

There’s an art to it, getting the right bags with the best images in the perfect spot, like the pig in the picture above. Beyond that, they approach their work differently.

“I get going on a Saturday morning, turn on my radio, and make tote bags, all the same design, all day,” says Claire. “It’s a cathartic process for me, like meditation. It does me good, and it does others good.”

Kathy’s art is “more creative, more freestyle,” says Claire.

Kathy chuckles at that.

“I don’t do much… I just add extra pockets and a few frills, make aprons, kids’ sizes, and even hay-bale lifters. I just have fun with it.”

Both women are devoted to the mission of SPiN, even as they confine their efforts to this simple regular gift of their precious time and talent. They’re both excited to see SPiN expand its reach to the community, in a bigger space where more services can be offered, and they’re happy to be a part of it.

But they don’t plan on getting fitted for those wings any time soon.