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North Texas man waits 16 years to find his purpose: quilting

Randall Mitchell is helping Day 1 Bags pay it forward to foster kids.

DALLAS — Back in 2005, 68-year-old Randall Mitchell took a leap of faith.

He retired from his job with Verizon because he felt a calling from God.

What was that calling? Quilting.

He didn’t know why he was supposed to quilt or what for, but he and his wife, Charlene, got ready to sew and then waited. And waited. And waited.

“Sixteen years later I got an answer by an email from a young man,” Mitchell said.

The email came from a 21-year-old college senior named Hunter Beaton.

A few years ago, Beaton, who lives near San Antonio, started Day 1 Bags, a charity that gives new bags to kids in the foster system.

“Many times, children are given trash bags instead of essential supplies, essential luggage whenever they’re moving from home to home,” Beaton said.

So, each year, Day 1 Bags gives a new bag and other gifts to foster kids graduating high school.

This year, Beaton wanted the kids to have something more personal.

Somehow, he found Mitchell, 300 miles away in Murchison, and sent that email, asking if it would be possible to make quilts for every foster kid graduating high school in Texas, all 622 of them.

“And when I read that I said, ‘Oh, he needs some help,’” Mitchell said.

Fortunately, Mitchell knows a lot of quilters. He shared the email with his quilting friends on Facebook and, in less than three months, they’ve nearly reached their goal.

Mitchell and his wife plan to make four quilts and quilters all over Texas have pledged to make at least 500 more.

“It’s incredible,” Beaton said. “The amount of personal touch that a quilt can give is just absolutely incredible and I know that they are going to be like, ‘wow, these people do actually care about me.’”

“You might be in a tough situation, but in that tough situation there’s better things, better blessings that might come in it,” said Betty Bajika, one student who received a bag last year.

Hearing that gave Mitchell the confirmation he needed.

“I said, ‘God, you have answered this through this email from this young man,’” Mitchell said. “And these kids is a big part of it.”

Mitchell believes his purpose now is to give away pretty much every quilt he makes to someone who needs it.

Because after waiting 15 years for an answer, he’s finally putting the pieces together.

For more information on the quilt project or Day 1 Bags, visit the Adopt-a-2022 Senior from Foster Care Facebook page.

To donate, click here.

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