VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - At 99 years old, a Volusia County grandmother is still going strong with a needle and thread.
Martha Hixon's daughter, Katherine Brown, believes her mother's sewing machine and her passion for giving back to those less fortunate is what keeps her active.
Hixon learned how to use a needle and thread at 3 years old.
"Somebody came to their house to make clothes for the kids for the summer, and the lady taught mom to sew and by the time she was 4, she was sewing things," Brown said.
Hixon learned so well, she made her own clothes to wear to school, and ever since, it's been a never-ending love affair with sewing that her children also enjoyed growing up.
"(It) was really special 'cause everybody else had to go buy their clothes and she made all of our clothes. I was 16 when I got my first store-bought dress," Brown said.
Hixon also made her daughter's wedding dress. It was so beautiful her sister later dyed the dress to wear to her prom, Brown said.
At 99, there's no stopping Hixon's peddling.
"The joy she gives other people, sometimes we have to slow her down," Brown said.
For years, Hixon has been making dresses and bags for little girls around the world.
"They've taken them to Peru, they've taken them to Nicaragua, they've been to Cuba and taken dresses. We have friends in Colombia, South America, and they've taken them in the missionaries to give out the dresses," Brown said.
The family's church in Port Orange takes the dresses and skirts she makes on mission trips.
Brown recalled how her mom has always had an open heart -- even toward people she didn't know.
"She was on the beach and a guy came from a foreign country ... And he was asking her where he could stay. She brought him home and he stayed with us for a while," Brown said.
It's a sense of solidarity Martha shared with, Al, her husband of almost 72 years.
"Daddy was the same way. They always gave to other people. If he had a student that didn't have a place to be, he brought him home," Brown said.
The couple also shared a love for dancing.
Martha and Al Hixon enjoyed square dancing together for almost 60 years. The clothing they wore to those dances were also made by Martha Hixon. She still preserves one of the skirts she use to square dance in.
A legacy of compassion is also apparent in the blankets Hixon makes that will be donated to an abused women's shelter.
"God's still using her. He's not ready for her to be up there yet," Brown said. "To have her be this age and still be so creative and still be so active and caring and giving to me is really just such a blessing."
Hixon will celebrate her 100th birthday April 17.
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