Johnna Gray creates personalized keepsakes handcrafted from a loved one's cherished clothing in Utica. Every Memory Bear is one of a kind teddy bear. When you lose someone you love, it helps to have something huggable to hold.

Memory Bears Honor Boo Raley
Memory Bears Honor Boo Raley
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Recently, my sister-in-law lost her husband. She wanted to give her children and grandchildren a piece of him to hold on to. She took some of his favorite shirts to Johnna to create some memory bears to honor Boo Raley. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when the gifts were opened and a piece of Boo was inside to hug. I needed some tissue to dry my tears. At that moment, I realized how much these memory bears mean to people. Transforming your loved ones' favorite shirt, robe, or pajamas to provide a cherished memory for a lifetime. I reached out to Johnna to thank her for making something so special for my family.

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Gina also thanked Johnna on social media.
I had 20 bears made out of my husband’s shirts for the kids, his sister, and his grandkids. You can tell that every stitch was made with care and the love of honoring our loved ones. Everyone opened their bags and was very touched and hugged them tightly. This is such a lovely way of keeping his memory alive and I am so grateful Stitches with a Purpose made this happen. Thank you so much! - Gina Arnold Raley

Gray Family
Gray Family
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MEET THE GRAY FAMILY

I've known the Gray family for several years and they're the kindest people you will ever meet. At the Christmas Wish headquarters back in 2017, I had the chance to meet the Gray family. A beautiful family that was on a mission. The mission is to raise money and donate to local charities in memory of their son. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when the story was shared about Johnathan Gray. Johnathan's life was tragically cut short years ago on July 19th, 2015 by a drunk driver. He was just 24 years old. It was a blow to all who knew him. He accomplished so much in his short life and continues to inspire so many. His family and friends, through their car shows and fundraising efforts, donate all year long to impact the communities that Johnathon loved.

Gray Family/CANVA
Gray Family/CANVA
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OUT OF GRIEF, STITCHES WITH A PURPOSE ARE BORN

Around that same time, Johnna needed to find a way to help ease her grief so she created Stitches with a Purpose. If you can't bear to part with a loved one's clothing, she can custom create something treasure for a lifetime. It's such a great way to help keep those memories alive. She's such a selfless person, and it shows in everything that she does. Johnathan is looking down and so proud of his Mom, and her heart for others.

They had perfect workmanship! - Sandi Abney Evitts

You did such a fantastic job on this bear. My husband loves it.
For anyone looking for a very special memorial gift, Stitches with a Purpose is where you need to go. - Elizabeth Blackwell Rogers

Gray Family
Gray Family
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NOTE ONLY MEMORY BEARS, BUT OTHER GIFTS TOO!

Do you make pillows as well? - Mollie D Kelley

She does indeed offer memory pillows and many other handmade and personalized gifts. She can make many things from your loved ones' clothing. Or, personalize something special for you.

I needed a special project completed quickly and Stitches with a Purpose was glad to help! My vision was completed and the product is just what I asked for. Thank you so much! - Allyson Locke Stovall

Gray Family
Gray Family
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I wanted a special blanket made for my rainbow granddaughter and she went above and beyond to give me even more than I could’ve dreamed of! A wonderful experience from beginning to end and I will be ordering more and would recommend it to anyone/everyone! Thank you so much, Stitches with a Purpose! - April Wheatley

GLASS MEMORY ORNAMENT WITH LOVED ONES' SHIRT

I haven't seen anything like this before, but I'm here for it. I still have one of my Dad's shirts from when he passed away in 2013. I may need to get a bunch of these made for my family this Christmas. An heirloom that will be treasured for years to come.

Gray Family/CANVA
Gray Family/CANVA
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I love that it's become a family affair! So adorable.

Thank you for bringing smiles to so many people who need it the most.

READ ON: See the States Where People Live the Longest

Stacker used data from the 2020 County Health Rankings to rank every state's average life expectancy from lowest to highest. The 2020 County Health Rankings values were calculated using mortality counts from the 2016-2018 National Center for Health Statistics. The U.S. Census 2019 American Community Survey and America's Health Rankings Senior Report 2019 data were also used to provide demographics on the senior population of each state and the state's rank on senior health care, respectively.

Read on to learn the average life expectancy in each state.

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