CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The constant humming of her trusty sewing machine is like music for Sinton seamstress Leah Spencer.
"When I'm sewing, I'm just escaping," she said. "Keeping my hands busy, and my head busy."
The sound soothes her as she meticulously weaves beautiful quilts of kindness — sewing patterns of perfection for our patriots.
"It's a way to give back (to military veterans) and say 'Thank you for serving and sacrificing,' " Spencer beams.
What's now become her passion really began with an urgent purpose.
That's the other side of Leah Spencer's life.
Spencer constantly receives treatment for a disease that has no cure: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome causes severe, many times life-threatening, allergic reactions to common things such as heat, foods, and even water.
Family friend Michael Gibson remembers the critical moment four years ago when Spencer needed urgent, and expensive, surgery in Connecticut.
"That's one good thing the military has always taught me," he said. "Never turn your back. Always help out as much as possible."
To return the kindness, the seamstress went big.
From scratch, she stitched together her first Quilt of Valor just for Gibson.
"I was thinking 'How can I show Michael that I am so thankful for what he did for me?' " she said.
"It kinda like tore my heart out in the best way possible," said Gibson. "It's like aww, man. This is just tears in my eyes."
Spencer's gift of gratitude didn't stop there. She created Quilts of Valor of South Texas. With some help from a few others, she has sewn 100 other stunning blankets for the brave.
"It's a hug," said Spencer. "It's like, 'Man, thank you.' A warm, fuzzy red-white-and-blue hug."