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Can you help Vermont family fulfill mom’s promise to stranger?

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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GEORGIA, Vt. (WCAX) - A Georgia family is searching for a woman in Bakersfield to give her some bags, and they hope you can help.

For the past few weeks, the Hardy family has been looking for a woman who uses the Bakersfield Recycling Center. They don’t know who she is or what she looks like.

The family says they owe the woman two homemade bags, but after posting on Facebook and asking all around town, the family has been unable to locate her. But this story is about much more than returning empty satchels.

Debbie Fleury of West Enosburg was nothing short of a talented seamstress.

“Well, she’s always loved to sew. She made my wedding dress and my sister’s wedding dress, so sewing has always been a passion of hers,” said Jenifer Hardy, Fleury’s daughter.

Fleury’s talents spanned a wide variety of uses: dresses, quilts and eventually something a bit more every day: handmade shopping bags.

“Way back before plastic bags were banned, so, years ago... my mom started making bags out of grain bags. She just thought it was fun and she started where she would collect bags everywhere. I mean sometimes she’d see some on the side of the road and she’d have to stop,” Hardy said.

Last spring, Fleury found a bag she simply had to have.

“There was a lady in Bakersfield who had birdseed bags, and mom spent a couple trips bringing back her recycling envying these birdseed bags because she didn’t have any grain bags like that,” Hardy said.

So she cut a deal with this woman she met at the Bakersfield Recycling Drop-off. In exchange for her cardinal grain bags, Fleury would make two shopping bags out of the material and bring them to her. But Fleury was battling cancer and her family says she never got around to getting the bags to the woman in Bakersfield.

She passed away in late March. She was 64.

Grieving the loss of her mom, Hardy decided to put her sewing skills that she inherited to good use.

“So I had to search through an entire box of them to find the cardinal ones because dad said, ‘Your mom made an arrangement with this lady. The lady followed through and gave her her bags, I want to follow through on your mom’s part,’” Hardy said.

The bags are made but that’s proving to be the easier part. Now, the Hardy family is searching for this unknown Bakersfield recycling woman. They have no description, no name and no address, just an obligation to fulfill on behalf of a beloved family member.

“She didn’t get to finish all of her projects and this is one that we can finish for her. And I think that will really be helpful for us to be able to finish this for her. It’s something that we can do for her,” said Jenelle Hardy, Fleury’s granddaughter.

If you are the rightful owner of the cardinal birdseed bags or know the person who is, please reach out to me. You can either call our newsroom at 802-652-6397 or send me an email.

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