When approached about making material items for children living in an African orphanage, volunteer members of the Tamaqua Salvation Army's Needlebugs sewing and crochet group jumped at the chance to help.

A month ago, Needlebugs member Janet Haggerty was approached by Wandie Zammer of Hometown about making material items and provided sewing knowledge and tips to pass on to more than 120 orphaned children living in an orphanage located in Nakaseeta in the Republic of Uganda, East Africa. Zammer, who was approached a few months ago by the Rev. Paul Gaggawala via Zammer's father, Bill Zammer, who knew Gaggawala from the Knights of Columbus council 271 in the Seek section of Coaldale. Gaggawala was also a prior chaplain for the Pennsylvania Knights of Columbus.

Further discussions between Gaggawala, Director of Mission Promotion for the Apostles of Jesus out of Northampton and Shenandoah, and Wandie Zammer eventually resulted in her planning a self-paid month-long trip to Africa to help teach the orphaned children new trades, such as sewing, modern-day cooking, reading and even computer skills. Zammer said she could have bought a car with the money she used for the trip, but pointed out that it is all worth it and she would probably choose to live there if given the opportunity.

Now honorably titled as a missionary, Zammer left for Africa Thursday morning and will spend the next four weeks providing vocational skills to all the orphaned children.

Zammer approached the Salvation Army Needlebugs with modest requests of various material items that would be used to make. Such items made and donated by the Needlebugs to Zammer to distribute when she arrives were dresses, blankets, kitchen materials, and other miscellaneous items. Zammer, whose only sewing skills date back to her high school years, also spent the last few weeks absorbing sewing techniques and tips from members of the Needlebugs to pass on to the older orphans in hopes the knowledge will help them find jobs.

Zammer pointed out her appreciation to many people and organizations that are supporting her on her trip. The Needlebugs group routinely makes items for the Hometown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale, and veterans organizations, as well as a number of other nursing homes and community organizations. They each possess their own talents and pass their shared knowledge and sewing secrets among each other.

Membership is free and open to both teenagers and adults, who are encouraged to stop by and see what weekly activities the Needlebugs are doing. Donations of cloth, fabric, padding, batting, yard and other items are always appreciated.

The Needlebugs, who were formed in 2009, meet every Monday at the Tamaqua Salvation Army from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information about the Needlebugs visit TamaquaSalvationArmy.com or call the Salvation Army at (570) 668-0410.