Interior Design Students Make Stockings

One toy-packed Christmas stocking seems to be shaped to fit inside an elf's curl-toed boot. Another stocking features rows of ruffles. A third looks like it was pieced together from Mrs. Claus's off-season upholstery scraps.

A load of one-of-a-kind holiday stockings made by Weber State University interior design students headed south to Primary Children's hospital to add some cheer to the hearts of young patients.

"We've probably been doing it for more than 10 years," said Kristen Arnold, Interior Design program coordinator and assistant professor. "The students do it as volunteers, even though the deadline comes just as they are studying for their finals."

This year's haul, 16 handcrafted stockings loaded with games and toys by their makers, will be added to others produced by members of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Stockings made by students at participating universities, and by Utah design professionals, will be delivered to Primary Children's Hospital patients who may be dealing with medical treatments over the holidays.

"I had a son who spent a lot of time at McKay-Dee Hospital," said student Karen Cottle, of Fruit Heights. "Those people at McKay-Dee are wonderful. My son is my personal reason for doing this. Those kids tug at my heart strings."

Cottle packed in small gifts, including toy race cars, selected for a little boy. Classmate Neisha Blaine, of West Point, and Lindsay Stoker, of Layton, made stockings for young girls and teenage girls, which they packed with items including a Little Mermaid vanity set and markers with wooden crafts sticks, respectively.

"This is such a great cause," said Blaine, 23. "It's fun to be a part of it, even if we can't see the kids' reactions."

Students are urged to use designer fabrics in their creations. Creative designs are not part of the mandate, but that tends to be what students turn in,

"Anything you learn about creativity and design tends to bleed into anything you do," said Stoker, 24.

Student Rachel Newbold, 18 and from Fruit Heights, packed her gift stocking with Hot Wheels and a small flashlight.

"What little boy doesn't need a flashlight to shine in his sister's face," she joked.

Nanette Hill, of Brigham City, packed a couple stockings with toys including cardboard mustaches, eyeglasses and bows, attached to sticks for children to hold up to their faces for comic effect.

"It's a nice distraction for them, and fun," said Hill, 43. "It gives them something to think about besides being in the hospital."

Hill also stitched one stocking from a thrift shop sweater, following the WSU initiative to reuse and recycle when possible.

"I'm already excited about next year's stockings," she said. "I'm sure I will be noticing fabrics for the next 11 months."

Most of the students talked about speaking to their peers, and texting ideas to classmates. Department instructor Rob Hall commented that collaboration adds to creativity, and improves students' products regardless of whether they are working on donated stockings or class projects.

"When they talk to each other about their ideas, they get new, fun, more exciting results," Hall said.

The IIDA gives out awards for top stockings, but none of the WSU Interior Design students seemed to have potential accolades on their radar.

"We're in it to make the children happy," Blaine said.

As for their own gift list, the students said they already have what they want in their new space, on the third floor suite of classrooms in the new building at the WSU Davis campus.

"It's great having classes close together, and big open spaces," Blaine said. "There's a lot more parking. And it seems easier to be creative when you're working in a bright, open space, not a dark corner."

"And it doesn't smell bad," Stoker added, noting the department's former space, on WSU's main campus, shared a building with science laboratories.

The remaining obstacles just ahead are final exams and, of course, getting things ready for their own holiday plans.

"My kids saw me making stockings, and thought they were for them," Cottle said. "Now they want their own stockings just like the ones I made to donate."

Originally written by Nancy Van Valkenburg of Standard-Examiner