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“One gift of love and kindness has spread from here around the world. It is breathtaking to watch God work with a little bit of stuffing, thread, fabric and ribbon, created by loving hands that see Him in each gift of love.”

Surely you have heard the buzz about the “Critter Ladies of White Bluff!”

“Who are we?” Sandy Cannon, founder and leader of the group, goes on to ask. She explains, “We are a group of women living within the gates of beautiful White Bluff, who, realizing our many blessings, give of our time and talents (though many don’t know that they are talented) to share God’s love with hurting children and elderly folk.”

Critters began in the fall of 2001, making stuffed animals and finger puppets for children passing through the emergency rooms of Hill County Regional Hospital and Lake Whitney Medical Center.

As the group grew in numbers, some ladies expressed a concern for the elderly in nursing homes. So the ladies expanded their ministry to making wheel chair bags, Christmas stockings stuffed with goodies, Valentine gifts and more for the residents at Park Plaza Nursing Home and Town Hall Estates.

Their ministry spread to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they send school supplies, Critter bears, and other needed items to children and hospitals. A great source of pride for the ladies is the certificate of appreciation from the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.

The Whitney Food Bank has also been blessed by the White Bluff Chapel Critters’ love each Easter, when a Critter bunny is given to each child, and at Christmas, when each child receives a hand-stitched Christmas stocking filled with goodies and a Christian message about the reason for the season.

Another project espoused by the Critter ladies is that of sending handmade baby blankets to the "Lilies of the Valley" group of Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries on the Texas-Mexico border, as gifts to young girls who are expecting babies. The Critter ladies are sending their message of love to these children of the Valley. Some of the Critter ladies have even traveled to the Valley to give sewing lessons to the Lilies.

Critters have even been to Africa, hand-delivered there by Jack Horn in previous years and most recently, by Ann McAlpin this past Christmas. The African children had never seen a toy before receiving a handmade Critter, stitched at White Bluff. Jack and Ann have reported that the children were thrilled!

Founder Sandy Cannon states that “the bond that has woven the Critter ladies together is one of love and caring, not only for others but also for each other, in a very special way.”

Are you a “Critter Lady?” If not, you are invited to join them. You don’t need to know anything about sewing, nor do you need “talent.” Just come for the fun, and they’ll show you how to help. The ladies meet from 10:30 until noon on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month in the Maurice Martin Fellowship Hall of White Bluff Chapel.

If you would like to be involved but cannot attend the meetings, you can still contribute to the Critter efforts if you can sew, knit or crochet.

WBC Sponsor: Cheryl Robinson Email

The History of the Founding of Critters

The story about how Critters came to be here in White Bluff began 18 years ago, when Seth, the oldest grandson of Sandy and Dick Cannon, was just 19 days old. He was rushed to Children's Hospital and had emergency surgery one Sunday morning in June of 1992. The following morning, when Sandy went to see the baby, her daughter Jennifer, Seth’s mother, was sitting on a bed, tears in her eyes, as she held up a little hand-stitched, smiley-face pillow. Jennifer was so touched that there was someone in Dallas who cared so much about little sick babies that they took the time to make that little gift of love for an unseen stranger. Sandy has often wondered about that woman, who could never to be told what her gift would become.

A few weeks later, the chief of volunteers put out an appeal for handmade stuffed animals for Parkland Hospital. And so it began, explains Sandy. “I felt God tap my shoulder, so I gathered some ladies from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and we began making critters and called ourselves ‘The Parkland Bears’." When she left those ladies over 12 years ago, they had made 25,000 bears, starting with that one gift of a small, smiley-face pillow.

Sandy moved to White Bluff in July of 2001. About two weeks later, there was a reception for two new doctors coming to Whitney, held at the high school. She sat down next to a lady and they exchanged information about themselves. The lady was an ER nurse in Hillsboro, and she explained that they had a problem when treating the frightened children in the emergency room. Since they had nothing to give the children, the employees were buying stuffed animals themselves to help calm and distract them. Sandy felt that familiar tap on her shoulder and told the nurse she would not believe that she had just found the person who could fill that need. Sandy knew that God was sending her here for this work, which began with that one gift of a small, smiley-face pillow.

In September of 2001, a few White Bluff ladies gathered at homes and began their journey. They purchased the fabrics themselves, starting small, and soon began to grow. When they could no longer keep all the supplies in Sandy’s home and did not have enough room to meet, Sandy approached White Bluff Chapel about their ministry. The Chapel offered to support the Critters group financially, as well as to provide the meeting and storage spaces, all from that one gift of a small, smiley-face pillow to over 16,000 gifts of love to date!

ission  Knit/Crochet and Critters Groups Close Out 2018
with a Great Year
 oment  January, 2019

by Sandy Cannon

The Knit & Crochet Group finished the year with 91 donations of knitted or crocheted items. They sent hats and blankets to Dallas Children's Hospital Cancer Center and Hospice, as well as afghans to WBC members currently living in Whitney nursing and assisted living facilities. Receiving the afghans were  Alminice Harrison, Mary Nell Ashmore and Gayle Hatherly at CCRC Assisted  Living and Ardell Botton and Glen Lively in Town Hall Estates.  All of the yarn was donated by Chapel members as well as coming from the ladies' personal stashes. 

Knit & Crochet meets the first and third Monday of each month at 10:00-12:00 in WB Fellowship Hall. 

This year the Critters Group has cut, sewn, stuffed with fiber fill, attached colorful ribbons, and bagged 1,870 precious little bears, frogs, cats, etc.!  Our total since founding in 2001 is 31,229.

Critters meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays from 10:00-12:00 in the Fellowship Hall.

We lovingly call ourselves, "The Sweatshop for Jesus."  It is our joy to use our hands and hearts to create these gifts of love for children in crisis.  We invite you to join us!  You don't have to be able to sew.  Just come to fellowship with friends and neighbors to give to "the least of these my children."

You may contact Sandy Cannon at 254-694-1983 or for further information.

Have a blessed New Year!

ission  WBC Critters Achieve a New Goal
 oment  July, 2018

The Critter ladies at WBC have been turning out critters (stuffed cuddle toys) for various hospitals and child services locally, throughout Texas and even worldwide. They deliver routinely to WIC in Hillsboro, Mexia and Clifton as well as Hill Regional Hospital and Texas Department of Health Services. Their latest count so far this year has reached 805 delivered Critters and they have topped their grand total since 2001 at 30,164!

The ladies are so pleased to have new members this year and look forward to giving out more smiles than ever.  For those wishing to join the group, it meets the second and fourth Tuesdays in the Maurice Martin Fellowship Hall.  Contact Sandy Cannon, Cheryl Robinson or Terry Boyer for more information.

ission  Critter Ladies Receive Thank You
from Children's Health
 oment  March, 2018

Once again the ladies involved with the Critter program received a thank you from the CCBD Child Life staff with Children's Health.  The children are in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

With the many types of critters they create, the work of these WB Chapel ladies helps children from many areas find comfort in varied conditions of health.  There is always room for more volunteers to continue this great effort of making life easier for these children.  Those interested in becoming involved should contact either Sandy Cannon at 254.694.1983 or Cheryl Robinson at 254-694-5736.  Any level of skill is useful in promoting this worthy cause.

ission  White Bluff Chapel Knit and Crochet Critters
 oment  April, 2017

The Chapel "Critters" is part of the Local Mission program led by Becky Watkins.  They have been active for over 16 years and were a program started by Sandy Cannon.  The Knit and Crochet groups joined together four or five years ago.  They recently delivered 70 blankets and caps to the Children's Health Center in Dallas.  When Bill and Aggie Gladbach's daughter Ceci visits White Bluff she takes donations from Critters back to the center.   Ceci is the head of the cancer department. 

The Critter group is always looking for volunteers and you don't have to be able to crochet or knit to be helpful.  If you would like to get involved or want more information about the group you can contact Cheryl Robinson for Critters and Sandy Cannon for Knit and Crochet.  These groups of ladies also make lap robes that are presented to the local Hospice.  Below is a thank you note from Children's Health Center.

Dear “Critter” Ladies,

Thank you so very much for the beautiful blankets and hats. It is so special to see our patients wearing the sweet soft hats and see the delicate, personal blankets draped over their beds. Your hard work and love shine through as our brave patients choose their hat and blanket. We appreciate your continued support of our sweet patients and are so grateful you all choose to spread your love with us. Thank you again!


Children’s Health Center
For Cancer and Blood Disorders

ission  Knit & Crochet Ladies Covered in Yarn
 oment  October, 2015

The Knit and Crochet ladies were recently delighted by the gift of two very large bags of yarn from Caroline Upchurch. Giggles and squeals were heard down the Chapel hall as the ladies looked at and ran their fingers through all the yarn. "It's just like Christmas" was heard many times. The ladies couldn't even imagine how many wonderful hats and lap robes they'll be able to make for Children's Hospital in Dallas and Hospice here in Whitney! They send big hugs and thanks to 'Sweet Caroline'.

ission  107 Alexis Hats Delivered for Children
 oment  June, 2015

On Father's Day weekend, the White Bluff Chapel Knit and Crochet Group delivered 107 chemo caps for use at Dallas Children's Hospital. They are destined for children undergoing chemotherapy.  The group calls the caps "Alexis Hats" in honor of Carol Buckland's granddaughter who has had bone cancer since she was twelve years old and who still suffers with it today. 

Alexis was the inspiration for starting the Critter Knit and Crochet group seven years ago, in 2008. She was diagnosed with bone cancer in her right femur, which had to be replaced with a titanium rod. Alexis continues today having accidents and breaking bones, an effect left from radiation.  

Linda Wilmarth crocheted 87 of the Alexis hats while recovering from surgery this spring.  Aggie and Bill Gladbach's daughter Ci-Ci is in charge of the Bone Marrow unit at Dallas Children's Hospital and she picks up the hats when she comes to visit at White Bluff.

ission  Patriotic Lap Robes for Veterans
 oment  November, 2014

The Critters Crochet Ministry group received a number of visitors for their work session this week. The guests were drawn by the patriotic project, “Patriotic Lap Robes for Veterans.” Aggie Gladbach, Director of Volunteer Services at Providence Hospice of Whitney, paid a visit to the group to encourage them and help coordinate efforts. Hospice is partnering with the Critters group to support the project and to place the lap robes with approximately 25 local veterans who are Hospice patients. Patriotic themes are particularly meaningful to veterans, and when they pass on, it is expected that their families will treasure this personal memento of their loved one.

A guiding member of the Critters Crochet group, Ann McAlpin, has been a prolific provider of the flag lap robes to Hospice. She demonstrated some of her work and lent advice on the selection of new patterns. Visiting the group were representatives of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR ladies have adopted the project through their “Service to Veterans” and “National Defense” committees, and Linda Watson, Madeleine Lively, Vickie Gorman, Sandra Gage and Gerry Milnor are partnering with Critters to create the flag-inspired or patriotic-themed lap robes. Sandy Cannon is working with her DAR cohorts to set up the partnership.

ission  Critter Knit & Crochet Group Has Big Year
 oment  Posted January, 2014

The Critter Knit and Crochet group was very busy in 2013. They knit and crocheted over 200 hats and finger puppets for cancer patients at Dallas Children's Hospital and M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, as well as lap robes for Providence Hospice in Whitney. They also sent enough Santa hats for all the cancer patients in treatment at Children's Hospital.

A significant accomplishment of the knit and crochet group was their expansion, led by Pam Larson, to include meeting at the Country Club Retirement Community on the first Monday of each month. Several residents there enjoy watching the Critter ladies work and also fellowshipping with them.

Larson organized a Christmas party for the staff of the C.C. Retirement Community, which included making 20 sets of coasters and 20 loaves of Christmas bread. The group met in the guest kitchen, with Pam giving directions for making the bread. They had so much fun, trying to work in a kitchen other than your own without all the tools needed. They had flour all over themselves and sticky maraschino cherry juice everywhere.......kinda’ like an “I Love Lucy” episode! It was great fun and got everyone all in the spirit of Christmas giving.

Interested ladies are invited to join the Critter group on Monday at 10:00 each week in the Children Sunday School room of W.B. Chapel. Members can either work on their own projects or work on whatever the Critters are doing. For those who want to learn to knit or crochet, this is where they can learn. Critter ladies are blessed with wonderful fellowship and love for one another.

ission  Critters Ride Harley to Agape Clinic
 oment  Posted March, 2013

The Agape Clinic is a ministry in Dallas that White Bluff Chapel has untaken to support this year. In addition, the Critters Ladies have pledged to send sixty critters every month to the clinic. The first delivery of 60 critters recently got a ride on Vicki Thompson's Harley all the way to Dallas. Vicki is happy to report that the critters all made it safely to their destination, where they are bringing comfort and joy to children receiving medical attention at this giving facility. See what the mission is all about at: A Mission of Healing: The Agape Clinic.

ission  White Bluff Chapel Ladies Deliver "Critters"
 oment  March, 2013

The Critter Ladies from White Bluff Chapel in Whitney traveled to Hillsboro on Wednesday, March 20, to deliver “critter” stuffed animals to both the Texas Department of State Health Services and WIC, a service that aids women, infants and children.

Martha Payne, R.N., Public Health Nurse for the Texas Department of State Health Services, presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the White Bluff Chapel Critter Ladies in recognition of their valuable service to the Vaccines for Children Program.

The ladies also delivered “critters” to WIC to be used in their services to promote better health for infants and children up to age 3 years old. The staffs of the Texas Department of State Health Services and WIC were very appreciative and excited to receive the critters stuffed animals for their little patients.

ission  Knit / Crochet Critters Minister
to Hospitalized Children
 oment  November, 2012

Ladies in the Knit and Crochet Critters group bagged their Christmas donations this past week to send to children dealing from cancer at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston and Children's Hospital in Dallas. The bags on the tables contain 100 crochet and knit hats and 29 Lapkins for children.

The ladies are also sending small lap robes to Children's Hospital for the kids to have when they are being taken to treatments.  Additionally, Hospice in Whitney will receive 8 shawls and afghans from the Knit and Crochet Critter Ladies.

This generous and talented group encourages anyone wanting to learn to knit or crochet to join them on Monday's from 10-00 -12:00 a.m. (They are taking off the month of December, but will return the first Monday in January.) Anyone who would like to contribute but would prefer to work at home is welcome to join in this ministry. For info, contact Sandy Cannon at 694-1983.

ission  Critter Crocheters Receive Thank-You
 oment  August, 2012

The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorder, Outpatient Client, Children’s Medical Center Dallas has sent a thank-you note, along with photos of some of the children who received Alexis hats and blankets. These items were made by the Crochet Branch of the White Bluff Chapel Critters ministry.

Dearest “Critters,”

We are so appreciative of all the love, time, & resources you have put into the beautiful “Alexis Hats” & blankets you have provided us! Children are always excited to pick out a fun hat to take home and to use while getting their chemotherapy. Thank you so much for your kindness & generosity.

Center for Cancer & Blood Disorder
Outpatient Clinic

ission  WBC Critters Go to Tanzania
 oment  August, 2012

146 critter animals, including giraffes, frogs, elephants, turtles and monkeys crafted by the ladies of White Bluff Chapel, travelled to Tanzania in Africa in the suitcase of 16-year old Brooke Durham from Levelland, Texas. Niece of Betty Patterson of Whitney, Durham spent her summer mission trip helping to build a girls dormitory in the village of Sambasha. She travelled with the Aldergate Methodist of Lubbuck, under the auspices of OMEGA International.

In a thank-you note to the Critter ladies, Brooke wrote, “Thank you so much for partnering with me to share the Gospel and God’s love with the gracious people of Tanzania, Africa.” Entering her junior year at Levelland High School, she is a highly motivated young lady and her goal is to be Valedictorian of her graduating class.

Brook’s aunt, Betty Patterson, is a member of the White Bluff Chapel Critter ladies who make the small, colorful stuffed animals to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, and other organizations helping people in need of comforting. The recipients hail from as nearby as Whitney and as far away as Haiti, Vietnam, Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan and two different countries in Africa.

Founder Sandy Cannon started the Critter group 18 years ago after her infant grandson received a smiley-face pillow in a hospital emergency room. “One gift of love and kindness has spread from here around the world. It is breathtaking to watch God work with a little bit of stuffing, thread, fabric and ribbon, created by loving hands that see Him in each gift of love.” White Bluff Chapel supports the Critters group as one of its missions, as well as providing the meeting and storage spaces. To date, they count over 20,000 gifts of love that have gone out around the world.

ission  100 Alexis Hats Delivered to M.D. Anderson
 oment  May, 2011

Flying needles from the crochet spin-off group of Critters have produced quite a large collection of brightly-colored, head-hugging hats to send to hospitals. They are designed for children who are undergoing chemotherapy and have lost their hair. The project was inspired by the grand-daughter of White Bluff resident Carol Buckland, when young Alexis was going through cancer treatments last year.

Jan Schiftner, White Bluff Chapel member, has herself undergone chemotherapy and radiation this past spring at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston. While Jan and her husband Brett were making a trip to the hospital this week for follow-up tests, they took with them a large bag of 100 hats crocheted by WB ladies for the hospital to give to their young patients. Alexis' influence is spreading far, as are the good will and prayers of our Critters ladies.

ission  Sister Critter Group in Clifton Enjoys Success
 oment  April, 2011

The newly-formed sister Critter group at Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Clifton reports that they now have twelve enthusiastic ladies who are learning to cut, sew and stuff lots of cats, dogs, frogs etc.

The formation of this group was reported on this site in March. It seems that when Gayle Kralik and Sandy Cannon were buying two basket-loads of fabric in November, a lady asked them what they were going to do with all that fabric. (Our Critter ladies are always asked questions like this when doing their fall buying for the upcoming year.)

Gayle and Sandy explained what Critters was all about, and how they spread their work around the world with our group of ladies. The lady inquiring said she is a nurse in Clifton and would love for our group to bring some Critters there. They made contact with Joyce David of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, former White Bluff resident, and she told her ladies about the Critters group.

White Bluff Chapel Critters ladies pray that God will bless this new group with the excitement and love that He gives to our WB Critters ladies here.

ission  Alexis Hats Group Boasts Flying Fingers
 oment  April, 2011

The Critter-sponsored "Alexis Hats" crochet group is meeting every Monday at 10:00 a.m. in the children's Sunday School room. This new ministry is named for the granddaughter of one of our Critter gals, Carol Buckland. Carol's granddaughter Alexis, has been fighting cancer at the tender age of 14 for the past two years.

The Critter crochet group began in February to learn to crochet hats for children who need chemo caps after treatment and hair loss. They currently have fifteen ladies crocheting away, having great fellowship and contributing these hats to M.D.Anderson and Children's Hospital in Dallas. So far, they have delivered 121 hats and have 75 more ready to deliver.

Those interested in joining this group of ladies to crochet or to knit these hats can come to any meeting. They will give you yarn and instructions, which you can take home to work on at your leisure.

ission  Sister Critter Group Organized
with Emmanuel Lutheran
 oment  March, 2011

Sandy Cannon, founder of WBC's Critters ministry, and fellow Critter enthusiast Gayle Kralik, visited Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Whitney last week to extend an invitation for the ladies there to join our ladies as a sister Critter group. The invitation was met with enthusiasm, as were the patterns, fabric, notebook for record keeping, face transfers and one of the "Alexis Caps" that Sandy and Gayle displayed for them.  

While Sandy and Gayle had been asked to make their presentation in about 10 minutes, they ended up answering questions and discussing their ministry with the interested Lutheran ladies for at least 45 minutes. Now Sandy has received a call from Joyce David that the new Sister Critter group is ready to organize and that they plan to meet on Monday evenings.  Gayle and Sandy have offered to attend the meetings until the new group feels comfortable operating on their own.