BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. — In a dimly lit room off Oak Island Drive, Sally Winey gets to work on her grandmother’s 1898 Singer sewing machine. As of this year, she’s mended over 30,000 stuffed animals, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.
“I just recently had a monkey whose whole body was gone and he had an ace bandage wrapped around him,” Winey said.
She’s constantly bringing new life to old toys. Families send them to her from around the world, as far away as Australia. She’s mended them for every type of person, too. Demi Moore sent one of her own, as well as Presidents of the United States.
Toys aren’t the only thing being mended through the process. Winey found out in April that she had breast cancer, and she said she’s not going through it alone.
“The whole time I was having chemo and radiation, I just kept working on bears as much as I could,” Winey said. “Some days I couldn’t, but i’d just sit there and it gave me the drive to make somebody else smile,”
These days, Sally is doing well. She’s in the middle of the Christmas rush, trying to finish stuffed animals for children to receive on their holiday.
“I really am Santa’s helper,” Winey said. “I’m working everyday and I’m still getting calls asking ‘can you get this to me?’ and then I find out they’re in California and that’s hard, but I’m doing the best I can.”
She said making people smile is the best part of the job.
“Now they don’t always smile because they don’t always get exactly what they think they’re going to get, but I do my best to bring a smile to their heart.”