Every Monday, a group of volunteers sews quilts for Lutheran World Relief. In 2018, they made 220.
Volunteers in turquoise shirts were everywhere in the fellowship hall of St. Armands Key Lutheran Church.
On the front of those shirts is a saying: “Live generously.”
“That’s our motto,” Nona Arnholt said.
Arnholt is one of the organizers of the church’s quilting group, which meets weekly each Monday for about three hours.
The group designs and sews quilts to be donated through Lutheran World Relief, which disperses the quilts around the world.
In 2018, the St. Armands group sewed 220 quilts, the most it has completed in a year. In 2017, the group made 180 quilts. The church also donates care kits to Lutheran World Relief each year.
In 2018, Lutheran World Relief donated care kits and quilts to 601,144 beneficiaries in 25 countries.
The St. Armands group works like a well-oiled machine. Tables are set up around the room that serve as the sizing and designing area. The volunteers use sheets as the backs of the quilts and choose a matching fabric, often one that has a pattern, as the front.
All the materials, which are donated except the batting that fills the quilts, are stored in a closet where at least 40 bins hold the fabric and sheets, giving them plenty of inspiration and color schemes.
“The quilts are art,” Arnholt said. “They’re what the person sees to do.”
Those who don’t measure and tie the fabric together help sew the binding, like Linda Mooney.
She said those who design and size the quilts like to be creative, but she’s happy with her role at the sewing machine putting the final touches on each quilt.
“Everybody has a function, and they’re happy doing what they’re doing,” she said.
Each quilter works at her own pace. Arnholt said one volunteer can make three quilts each Monday, but most of them take at least one session to complete a quilt.
No experience is required to be a part of the group. The volunteers teach others and share tips about quilting. There is also no age requirement, and volunteers do not have to be a member of the church to join.
Suzette Bingham has been part of the group for about seven years. For the two months her daughter, Tina Dyott, is in town, she joins the group and the mother and daughter work side by side.
For them, their favorite part is simple.
“The quilts are going to good things and helping people,” Bingham said.
The volunteers range in number from about 15 during season to about six during the summer months. But no matter what, the group works year round.
For the volunteers, they find a twofold purpose in making the quilts.
“First of all, we know what we’re doing is helping the world, and that’s always a priority,” Arnholt said. “But we also help each other. For instance, when some of us have lost a loved one, the only place they want to be is quilting because everybody supports them.”
For Ruth Veit, who helps Arnholt with the organization of the group, it serves as an outlet for a favorite hobby.
“First of all, it’s for a wonderful cause, and second thing is I love to sew,” she said.