Ninety-one-year-old Volunteer ‘Knocks Socks Off’ at Fix-it Fair
A pair of seventy-year-old socks is what Williamsburg resident Larry Hechler chose to wear to Orange County’s “Don’t Pitch It, Fix It!” workshop on Feb. 29, 2020. The 91-year-old says his mother knitted the argyle socks for his 21st birthday, and in keeping with the theme of the community repair event, Hechler donned his mended socks as he volunteered as a fixer and sustainability advocate.
The free annual “fix-it fair”, organized by Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division, offers residents the opportunity to have broken items repaired by handy neighbors and skilled volunteers.
“People need to think twice before throwing things out,” said Hechler. “If items need repair, why not try and fix them first?”
After working in the retail industry for 30 years, Hechler retired to Florida but continued working part-time as a jewelry making and repair teacher in Winter Park, DeLand and Daytona Beach. An ad for “wanted fixers” in the Orlando Sentinel inspired the nonagenarian to lend his skills to Orange County, and to give back to his community.
At the recent workshop, Hechler spent three hours assisting community members at Blanchard Park, repairing their broken necklaces, earrings, bracelets and watches. He brought 18 containers filled with his own clasps, chains, hooks and beads, along with his own personal tools needed to bring the jewelry back to life — all for free.
“I like volunteering because it makes me feel useful,” said Hechler. “It keeps me busy, and being busy is the key to staying fit.”
Along with Hechler, 16 other county residents volunteered and repaired nearly 50 items for 48 guests. In addition to jewelry, these items included bikes, electronics, sewing machines, clothing, lamps, vacuums and more.
“Don’t Pitch It, Fix It!” workshops help to achieve Orange County’s goal of reducing landfill waste. The fair was designed to help reduce daily consumption of goods in homes, encourage recycling, save money through trade, and provide an opportunity to learn valuable skills and resources from the volunteer fixers, like Hechler.
For more information about volunteer opportunities at future workshops, email DontPitchIt@ocfl.net, call 407-836-1440, or visit www.ocfl.net/DontPitchItFixIt.
Photo cutline: Volunteer Larry Hechler at Blanchard Park “Don’t Pitch It, Fix It!” workshop.