Woman gives back by building little worlds

Positively Tennessee

Helen Mills is a familiar face in the gift shop at Children’s Hospital, always making sure goodies are tagged and bagged properly before going to someone special. 

Mills is known for her eye for detail; something that serves her well at the hospital and at home, where she spends hours in her tiny workshop, carefully carving wooden pieces, turning them into Christmas creations.

You’ll see everything from miniature sleighs to rocking horses, even the base for a pot-bellied stove.
Each handcrafted item will have a special place in one of Mills’s snow-covered Christmas villages, or in the unique tree houses Helen lovingly calls “Scrappy Town Midnight Magic.”

“People give me things, ” Mills said. “That’s why it’s Scrappy Town.”

She literally uses wood scraps to make each rustic masterpiece.

“I started going around and picking up stuff and just decided one day that I’d see what I could do, ” Mills said.

Peek inside the tree house to see the stone fireplace, woven rug and tiny, brightly wrapped presents. Then, imagine climbing down the handmade rope ladder to the welcoming picket fenced lawn below.

Mills also collects discarded bit and pieces from friends, and sometimes from the gift shop. Look for tiny details in her designs at this year’s Fantasy of Trees.

We thank Mills for sharing her gifts to help Children’s Hospital and bring a little Christmas magic to so many.

“When you’re on social security, what can you give besides yourself?” Mills asks. “So that’s what I give to the hospital. Time, maybe talent.”

Mills’s trees and villages can be purchased at Fantasy of Trees, benefiting East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

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