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Woman responsible for thousands of donations says God spoke and she listened

Sue Desautels sews a blanket and recalls she didn't know how to sew a few years ago when she bought her first sewing machine. (WCIV)

She heard the word and didn’t hesitate. She made the purchase of a lifetime and now leads a legion of ladies all armed with a needle and thread.

Voices do carry, one a bit further than others.

“Three in the morning for weeks… Lord was waking me up. …I finally said, what Lord?”

Sue Desautels said God told her to buy a sewing machine. So, she did.

It was a simple $85 sewing machine from Walmart. Sue said it wasn’t long before the Lord began waking her up again, telling her to take it out of the box and use it.

Sue Desautels had never used a sewing machine, but she jumped into the spool head first. She first sewed something for her disabled grandchild.

“Never sewn until I was 55,” she said. “Couldn’t understand directions. Started watching YouTube videos. Never watched YouTube. Watched 87 times to learn how to thread the machine. Lord, you know I’m old.”

Desautels said her granddaughter is motivation and inspiration at one time. She was once told she would never clap her hands, but now she claps every day. The Clap Your Hands organization was created in the child's honor and provides therapeutic products for children with cognitive and physical disabilities.

The products are provided free of charge, making donations important. That’s another area where she says God has been involved.

“We’d be down to $3 in the checking account. If you want me to continue, got to have money. Four separate times, people came to my house, knocked on the door, wanted to give $100 in cash. Who does that?”

Among the products Clap Your Hands produces are weighted blankets. Sensory weighted blankets can set a family back anywhere from $75 to hundreds of dollars.

“One more thing for them to pay for, can’t afford it,” Desautels said. “Who suffers? Kids suffer. Not in this area. One hundred percent free, all the time.”

It’s a glaring need met with the pieces coming together one stitch at a time.

“Biggest majority of parents, they cry. They write me in tears. ‘First time my child has ever slept through the night.’ What kinds of payday is that? Best payday ever,” she said.

Sue Desautels started sewing three years ago. Clap Your Hands was certified as a nonprofit a year ago. In that time, the organization has donated 3,000 therapeutic times to schools, churches and families. All of the money the organization receives goes right back into Clap Your Hands. Not one person involved is paid.

Sue Desautels is this month’s Jefferson Award winner.

ABC News 4 has committed to profile people in the Lowcountry who go above and beyond by giving their time and talents to help the people around them. It's all part of our partnership with the Jefferson Awards, a national organization dedicated to recognizing and celebrating those who serve and lead.

If you would like to share someone's story of volunteerism who needs to be recognized, click here.

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