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Making a difference one quilt at a time
Creating comfort, providing supplies
Beautiful handmade quilts drape the pews at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Fennimore - photo by Emily Schendel
The ladies at the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Fennimore have been at it again. Joining together to create beautiful quilts, baby kits and school kits for people across the globe.
The local church has been working with the Lutheran World Relief easily since its inception in 1945. But, as memories of members serve, they’ve been working on quilts for even longer.
The group sews and ties quilts to be sent to families and individuals.
“Imagine the comfort and care you feel when you snuggle under a comforter or wear a piece of clothing made or worn by a loved one,” the Lutheran World Relief website notes. “That’s the feeling you share through an LWR Mission Quilt. Useful for shielding against the cold and rain and for warm bedding, quilts can also be purposed as simple tents, floor coverings, or a wrap to hold a baby on a mother’s back. In a simple combination of fabric and thread, you reach out to people in their time of greatest need with a strong message of hope:you are not alone.”
This year the group has made about 90 quilts. In addition to the mission quilts, they also make ones for graduating seniors as well as for local families who may need them during times of hardship.
The group meets the first and third Tuesday from about 8:30 a.m. until around noon.
“Anyone is welcome to come down and help. You don’t need to be a Lutheran to tie,” church member Jane Soman quipped. “If you can tie a knot, you can tie a quilt.”
Soman was quick to add that there is a job for any and all skill levels who’d like to be involved.
The quilts are made from donated fabrics that as Soman put it, “just show up on the door step.”
“We think that a lot of the stuff families find in Grandma’s attic and bring it here to donate,” Soman said. “But we can’t say for sure as a lot of it just shows up in boxes and totes on the church’s door step, which is fine with us!”
Often there are tops for quilts that are half way completed in the fabric donations, which makes the job go a bit faster for the sewing crew. However they do accept any and all fabrics in good condition. Cotton blends are preferred for durability.
“These quilts aren’t just for keeping warm,” Soman said. “They will be used for a number of things from a rug to a divider, so something that can hold up and wash easily is good.”
Walking down the aisle in the church and observing the pews draped with the completed quilts you see a rainbow of colors and styles and patterns, including quilts made from soft worn blue jeans and courdory.
“They don’t allow anything patriotic or camouflage,” Soman said. “But the Green Bay Packers are just fine,” she joked noting a quilt with the football teams logo on the squares.
More specialized fabrics are typically saved for the graduating seniors.
“If we know the students are into something particular we try to make a quilt to suit them,” Soman noted.
Being resourceful, the ladies line the inside of the quilts with old blankets and they are backed with old sheets.
“If you are cleaning out your house and find a old blanket you don’t use anymore, give it to us and we’ll make a quilt out of it,” Fellow quilt tier and church member Martha Hestad said. “We also accept old sheets. But not too thin, if it’s so thin you can read through it, don’t send it along.”
The group has also collected a large number of baby receiving blankets, which turned out to be too small to make diapers for the baby kits for, but will not go to waste.
“We are going to try to sew together the receiving blankets we have for a liner or a topper,” Soman noted.
“We try to use up anything we can get our hands on,” Hestad said.
The group also assembled 26  kits this year which include two blankets, one of which is hand crocheted and the other sewn from a flannel sheet. Four diapers, also handmade from a flannel sheet, two outfits and two shirts, eight to nine ounces of soap, sleepers with no feet, socks, a sweater and hat and two diaper pins.   
As part of their efforts 89 school kits were also assembled this year. A task usually reserved for the Confirmation students, this year’s deadline was bumped up, causing the students to miss out on the opportunity to assemble. However, as Soman notes, the task always leaves a lasting impact.
“When the Confirmation students put together the school kits and see how little they get, and that is all they have, they find themselves a lot more grateful for what they have in their lives.”
Donations of fabric, clean and gently used baby clothing, handmade blankets, flannel sheets, and school supplies are always welcomed at St. Peter to put toward the following year’s kits. The donation of time is also always welcomed. Those who would like to participate or learn more are welcomed to pop in to the church on the first and third Tuesday from 8:30 until noon and lend a helping hand.