She focuses on serving others, not pitying self

Betty Leazenby chooses to spend her time blessing the lives of others rather than focusing on her own problems. Her small apartment here is colorful proof of her talent and willingness to share what she has. Homemade dolls, clowns, stuffed animals and other handicraft items are lined up on her couch awaiting their anonymous presentation to excited children.

Sister Leazenby has always loved to crochet and sew, having learned her skills from her mother and grandmother. She worked at a hospital for 28 years and found that her handwork helped calm her after the stressful tasks. She also made items for many years for craft fairs, selling jewelry on the side.Changes in her life gave her more free time. A back injury from a fall, with subsequent complications of infection and degenerative arthritis, forces Sister Leazenby to spend much of her time in a wheelchair. She has several other life-threatening health problems: congenital heart failure, diabetes and a tumor.

She lives in an apartment building with other residents with disabilities. "They think I am a little crazy to do this [handwork to give to others] but I find it very rewarding," she said.

Friends and family help Sister Leazenby secure fabrics, thread, batting and other materials for her projects. She seldom uses patterns, but looks at patterns and craft books, then designs her own projects. The result: embroidered dolls, each with its own personality; clowns; elephants; bears; even a pelican with fish in its beak.

Sister Leazenby gives the items to the bishop of her Kanesville Ward for distribution. The bishop later tells her of the children's expressions of excitement upon receiving the gifts.

"I really enjoy hearing about their reaction," she said.

Betty's three children and nine grandchildren live in the area and also benefit from her love and talents.