Sewing Ministry in WPA
Sewing ministry/mission in Western Pennsylvania is going strong! Volunteers from Christ UMC in Franklin sewed personalized quilts for Zimbabwe orphans. Each quilt was made using material that matched the age and gender of the recipient. Each one had a tag sewed in the corner with the child’s name on it. When that child is old enough to leave the Home of Hope orphanage in Nyadire, he/she will take the quilt along.
Volunteers from the Fertigs Charge make specially designed hospital gowns for women who have undergone breast surgery. Other volunteers in other places make prayer shawls for distressed individuals, neck coolers for soldiers, nightgowns, sweaters, and school bags for UMCOR kits, dolls and clothing for VIM teams to carry to children in other lands. From the amputee widow who sews to stay sane during the winter, to tweeners learning to sew, to women who knit or crochet while watching TV or sitting in UMW meetings, hundreds of people are involved in this ministry. There is something for everyone. There is mission to learn about. There are projects to do.
This fall during district and conference UMW Annual meetings the altars of churches are draped with sewing projects which will make their way into hospitals, nursing homes, and the Mission Barn to be sent out with teams into other countries.
Material collected over the years often finds a new home with creative stitchers when a relative dies or a quilter downsizes. Elizabeth Bjerke at Baldwin Community UMC has sources that provide bags of upholstery remnants, excellent material that can be pieced together for durable school bags. Some of that material is at the Mission Barn waiting to be picked up by people who want to re-purpose those remnants.
The skill of making something special is passed on to others in a variety of ways and places. Rita Weisenfluh teaches a little group of women to sew at the Rockland UMC. They meet together every Tuesday morning. At Franklin Christ UMC, Sue Reitz, Barb Lynn, Bev and Anna Lehman, Lynn Black, Bev Elliott, and Jane Allen put together “Kidz ‘n Stitches,” a summer sewing camp in its third year. They taught their charges how to make UMCOR school kit bags, sewing over a hundred bags this year.
At the School of Mission each year there is a “Hands on Mission” opportunity for people to fill up their free time. It resembled a sweat shop this year as women “obsessed” about putting together as many layette kids as they could. Denise Mains had brought 70 sweaters that she’d spent months crocheting. Machines whirred as five women sewed over 200 little sleeping gowns; tables were covered with bolts of flannel being cut into receiving blankets. When they ran out of donated diapers, the call went out to a drafted husband who made a run to stores to buy diapers. Sue Reitz said stores within a 50 mile radius of Grove City College were depleted of their cloth diapers.
Edith McGhee of Clarks Mills UMC has made hundreds of children’s outfits using the “Dress My People” patterns. VIM teams traveling to hot weather countries often fill their suitcases with those clothes that end up with Diane Miller. Sometimes those outfits are packed around computers in container shipments to places like Zimbabwe. They become multi-purpose clothes.
Volunteers in Mission are at work all over Western Pennsylvania sewing/knitting/crocheting, praying and sending what they’ve made into their neighborhoods, disaster areas, and far off places.