Stitches of Love has a heart for children with cancer. When Karen Yates heard Kay Tanger share her story at church about volunteering each Tuesday with children in the Jimmy Everest Center at OU Children’s Hospital, she had a vision for making quilts for them.
Beth Thomas was at the very first meeting in 2008 and has been involved ever since.
Ten to twelve ladies meet the first, third, and fifth (if there is one) Thursday of each month in the Pavilion, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., January through October. At each meeting, they not only work on quilts but pray for the children and for Kay who actually gives the quilts to the children. Kay prays for each quilt to get in the right hands.
Being Led to the Perfect Place
Once, she had a quilt with John Deere tractors to give, so she kept her eyes open all day for the right boy. At the end of the day, she went into a room with a little girl who shared that her favorite thing to do was ride with her grandpa on his John Deere tractor. She knew God had led her to the perfect place once again.
And it’s not just quilts, when they realized children often have to get chemo on their birthday, the group and Kay came up with the idea of a birthday pillowcase. They have a special technique that requires only three unexposed seams and can go through many washes without unraveling. Altogether, they have given 542 quilts and 191 pillowcases in the past six years.
The group loves that Kay takes a picture of each child with the quilt they receive and sends it to them, so they can share in the joy.
Mary Dahlberg explains, “The stories we get back are so encouraging … you know why you are sewing a quilt. It’s like … ‘Goodness Lord, you’ve already blessed me with friendship and a craft I love, but there’s even more!’” They are much more than a quilting group.
As Beth shares, “In the years we’ve met … the friendships and caring for each other is priceless … Not only do we pray for the children and their families, but we take time to pray for each other. We have a fellowship that is really unique because we have a common bond for what we do, and we care deeply for each other. It’s a friendship like no other.”
Praying for More
To join these ladies, all you need is a desire and curiosity to learn to quilt. Having a portable sewing machine and basic sewing supplies is helpful, but not required. In 2012, they had several women new to quilting, so they did a “Bible block of the month” where Mary taught a different quilt block one week of each month to offer lessons on technique, as well as the history of quilting and the different blocks.
Don’t want to sew? They even welcome help in just cutting fabric for kits. Donations are always welcome, too. Their greatest need, besides quilters, is for cotton-poly batting. They can make four child-size quilts from one queen-size batting. They’d love to have a sewing room where supplies and equipment could be kept securely, so they don’t have to lug them back and forth each time.
Coincidentally also in 2008, Elaine Brown and Teddy Ross decided they wanted to turn their love of quilting into something more. Elaine, who’d taken quilting classes for over 10 years, was approached by Teddy to teach her how to quilt. As Teddy explains, “My mother was bored all her life because she didn’t have enough to do, so I prayed, ‘Lord, I don’t want to walk in her shoes,’ and that is when this opened up.” Teddy realized she loved quilting, but couldn’t keep everything she made; so that’s when they decided to turn it into ministry.
“The stories we get back are so encouraging … you know why you are sewing a quilt. It’s like, ‘Goodness Lord, you’ve already blessed me with friendship and a craft I love, but there’s even more!’”
After attending a Sandi Patty benefit concert for White Fields Foundation and talking with Pam Millington (Pastor of Missions & Outreach Ministries), they decided to focus their efforts on White Fields and Hope Pregnancy Center. And last year, they began making prayer quilts for Congregational Care Ministry.
White Fields provides care for abused and neglected boys who have experienced multiple failed placements and have no place left to go. Kathy Northcutt says, “We knew there was a great need and it was a great facility, so we wanted to help. They showed us their rooms … they didn’t have quilts for their beds.” The ladies make a twin size quilt and matching pillow for each boy. They take a picture when each quilt is finished, and new boys get to pick from the available quilts.
When the ladies present the handmade quilts with the boy’s name on it, they also give him a Bible. “To witness a boy’s reaction to seeing his name on his own personal quilt … there’s no description for how that feels,” says Kathy. In addition, the ladies have also begun crocheting or knitting hats and scarfs for the boys.
For Hope Pregnancy Center, the women create baby quilts, booties, bonnets, bibs, afghans, receiving blankets, and soft toys. Elaine shares, “A lot of girls come thinking to get an abortion. The first thing Hope Pregnancy Center does is give them an ultrasound so they can see the baby. Then they let them hold a model of a baby at that stage. 98% decide against abortion … They offer counseling and classes, where the girls can earn play money to purchase our items and others in their store.”
The ladies meet every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Elaine’s home. They have had over 50 members altogether. Currently, there are around 11 regulars; those who can’t come every week often work on their projects at home and join the group when they can. Overall, they produce close to 500 items each year. They’re always ready to welcome those who’d like to sew, quilt, knit, and crochet with them.
Others can also get involved by donating items like yarn, cotton fabric, and thread. Their two greatest needs are bulk fabric (5+ yards) for the backs of the quilts and a larger, permanent place to work where they can securely leave supplies and equipment.
“Turning Hobbies into Ministry” originally published by Jennifer Ayotte, director of Internal Communications at Crossings, in the Spring 2014 edition of Crossings Magazine.