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Life Arts

Church Group Makes 100 Quilts for Lutheran World Relief

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My guest today is Bert Mount of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston. Welcome to OpEdNews, Bert. Your church has been involved in an ongoing project that uses crafts to help the needy in Third World countries. Would you care to tell our readers about it? 

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Immanuel Lutheran quilters, Bert on far right, front row

I have been attending the evening quilting sessions at our church for almost 20 years.  In the early years, we might make 10 or 15 quilts a year.  As more people joined the group and another sewing group joined the initiative, we started making about 50 quilts a year.  That had been our average for the past ten years or so.

I was traveling away from church for about five to six months in the past year, and when I returned in March, I was told that we had a goal to make 100 quilts this year.  (A quilt year is from October 1 - September 30 since the quilts must be delivered on the first weekend of October.)  They had already completed about 27 and many others were in different stages of completion.  Our daytime group started meeting twice a month instead of once a month and the evening group added an extra evening each month as well.

Was it still fun even with the ramping up of production?

Actually it was more fun.  The whole church kept asking,  "Which number are you on now?"  New people started sewing quilt tops at home. I suppose that the fact the the goal of 100 seemed so outlandish made it interesting.

You have to understand that quilting is a very social activity.  Groups of people work together to form the quilt sandwich (top, batting, and quilt back), so it offers a significant  opportunity to chat.  Later another group ties the three layers together.  Another opportunity to socialize.  The daytime group always has a pot luck lunch, and the evening group usually has treats. 

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hard at work

Fun! The entire church celebrated the finish of the project on a recent Sunday morning. Tell us about that.

We had a party to hang the quilts about a week before we shipped them out.  We started by digging out all the quilts from closets throughout the church.  Each quilt had a number affixed to it as it was finished so we would know when we  were done.  We put the quilts on tables, ten quilts per table, teens on one, twenties on another, etc.  When they were all out, one quilt was missing.  

We searched some more and there were none to be found.  On further inspection, we discovered that one quilt had two numbers on it.  It ad been counted twice.  We only had 99 quilts!  We hung the 99 anyway and had dinner together.  The following week, three women and one daughter of the congregation slipped into the church and made one more quilt, so we had 100 after all.

Great story!

On Sunday October 2, the quilts were displayed throughout the church, mostly in the sanctuary.  They became the focus of the children's sermon, were blessed within the prayers, and the quilters were honored. 

Where do you ship the quilts off to?

We give our quilts to Lutheran World Relief.  In 2010, quilts went to 24 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.  In warmer climes, the quilts become a bed for the children to sleep on.  In most cases, the quilts provide needed warmth where family resources have been taxed by war, earthquake, or floods.

How many quilts do North American church groups like yours produce in a year?

In 2010, nearly 320,000 quilts were shipped from North America.

Over the years, LWR has undoubtedly shipped millions of quilts overseas. That's impressive! Where do you get your supplies, Bert? What do you need that interested readers could help with?

People have been very generous to donate fabric for the quilt tops.  Some has come from businesses such as a company that makes drapes and bedspreads for hotels.  Most comes from members or friends of members.  We dog the local garage and rummage sales for used sheets to use for quilt backs.  Our biggest expense is buying the batting which gives warmth to the quilts.  Each roll of batting costs about $90 and will fill 25 quilts.  We also have to buy thread.  That is rarely donated.

We also raise money to help Lutheran World Relief ship the quilts and kits to their final destinations. 

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A year's worth of quilts awaiting display, blessing, packing and shipping

Your group doesn't  make just quilts. What other sorts of practical craft projects do you have?  

We also send school kits to Lutheran World Relief.    A school kit is a simple backpack made of cloth and rope.  In it we put notebooks of paper, pens, pencils, erasers, scissors, and pencil sharpeners.  This year, we packed 70 school kits.*

We have another frequent program where we make hats and mittens.  They go to a Head Start program in Chicago.  We also collect books for the school.

You all have put together a wonderful team over at Immanuel Lutheran! Thanks so much for talking with me, Bert.

Thanks for doing this.  It's a great way to share the story.


All photos by Joe Simchak

*According to the LWR website, its North American churches sent 319,610 quilts, 213,350 school kits, 174,975 health kits, 24,375 sewing kits, 85,100 layettes, 38,570 pounds of soap and $11.8 million to 838,302 people in 24 countries

Immanuel Lutheran Church website

Lutheran World Relief website


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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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