UNION TOWNSHIP (CLERMONT COUNTY), Ohio -- Melanie Meece has been sewing the seeds of compassion for more than a decade.
Her compassion takes the shape of a Christmas stocking. Lots of them.
Children's Protective Services of Clermont County tries to make the holidays a little happier for hundreds of kids in foster care.
In many cases, those children been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect. They range in age from infancy to 18 years old.
Some arrive as late as Christmas Eve.
None has a permanent home at Christmas, so Children's Protective Services collects gifts -- through its Community Toy Chest program -- to lift their spirits and remind them they're loved.
Meece, who works for the agency, thought the kids should get something extra, too.
"It was just a way to give back to my community," she said. "I didn't really have a lot of money to spend or able to adopt a child. But I could donate my labor, and I love to sew."
She's stitched hundreds of stockings over the years, too many to count. Along the way, she's gotten a little help from strangers.
"Lady in the store was asking me -- we were in line, we are ready to check out -- she said, 'What are you doing?' and I said, 'I'm making stockings.' And she said, 'Well, you must have a lot of kids.' I said, 'Kind of. In a way, yes.' And I told her about the project, and so she paid."
Of all the fancy stockings she's created for family and friends, Meece said it's the ones for the children in foster care she loves making most.
"I think it does make a difference in some way," she said. "The kids know that somebody really does care about them, wanting to go the extra mile for them."