She can still see his face.
The little boy was about 10 years old, transitioning out of homelessness, and Averie Clark knew only a few things about him.
"He wanted to make a scary monster. He wanted it to have scars, and he was acting kind of macho about it," she said.
Using materials "people always seem to have lying around," Clark taught the young boy and other families how to make their own monsters.
As his hands started to work, she watched his toughness fade.
"I found out he actually slept with his monster and even took it to school the next day," Clark said.
Seeing his joy is a rewarding part of an effort that combines skills gleaned from her day job at Bell Socialization Services and a crafting talent shared within a modern-day sewing circle.
Calling themselves The Bees, seven local women recycle materials and repurpose them into merchandise, including crocheted bags, T-shirt totes, scarves, headbands, covers for electronic devices and other items.
Founded in March 2011 by Clark, the group "gathers with a purpose," she said. "We're not just shooting the breeze. We want it to be known we have more of vision and mission."
Boutique Week: Most recently they helped fulfill that mission by making about 50 tote bags to be sold for $20 during York City Boutique Week, scheduled Sept. 4-8, at participating merchants.
The totes were handmade from painters' drop cloths, umbrella material from York Tent & Awning Co., and old tablecloths. Each bag is rubber-stamped with the Boutique Week logo.
Hilary Arthur, Boutique Week chair, local fashion blogger and online merchant of couture items, said she's already started using her bag.
"They're beautifully executed," she said. "They're truly a local product, designed locally, repurposed with local materials and created to promote local businesses."
The Bees previously have sold merchandise at local shops, including Sweet Melissa's Dream, at 51 N. Beaver St.
"They are an awesome group of women," said Melissa Grove, owner of Sweet Melissa's Dream. A self-proclaimed "hoarder of fabric," Grove has donated fabric scraps to the group for their work.
"I love what they're doing as a community effort. It's important for people to see what can happen when people come together and repurpose old materials into something new."
Getting creative: Clark first learned to repurpose what she had around her when she was a young, married mom. She and her husband faced "lean times" while they expected their first daughter, but that only inspired Clark to get creative.
Using old jeans that belonged to her and her husband, she cut the denim into patches that became a quilt for a cradle, she said.
After their second daughter was born and Christmas neared, she got creative again. Clark looked around the house for old clothes and mismatched socks, repurposing them into rag dolls. Her daughters, now 31 and 29 years old, still have those dolls, she said.
"I want to teach families that you don't have to buy kids the next best thing, and you're not failing them if you don't. Instead, you're helping them by teaching them to create things with what's on hand," she said.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.