By Kara Witherow, Editor
A group of women in Americus are stitched together by their shared faith, a love of quilting, and the desire to serve their community.
The Grateful Threads Quilting Guild has gathered weekly for the past several years to sew, stitch, and create as many quilts as possible to give away to others.
The group, which meets in Lee Street United Methodist Church’s parsonage, started with a weekend quilting class taught by Valerie Duff, a member of Americus First United Methodist Church. Deciding they wanted to meet more often, they formed Grateful Threads.
“We love what we do and we put a lot of love into the work we do,” Duff said.
Each year, the ecumenical group – many members are United Methodist, but several are Baptist, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian – chooses a cause to support. In past years they’ve made quilts for cancer patients and for local foster children. They also made nearly 5,000 masks for health care workers and people in long-term care facilities. This year they’re making quilts for veterans.
On Monday, June 28, 33 quilts were consecrated and dedicated and then given to Sumter County veterans. The handmade quilts – most with a patriotic, red, white, and blue theme – took between five and six months to complete. The group will make and distribute more quilts to veterans on Veteran’s Day; those interested in receiving one need only apply or indicate their interest.
Grateful Threads members love to sew, quilt, and serve others, Duff said.
“We all have a heart for service,” she said. “We’re all Christians and we all feel the need to serve others, and this is a way to do it. Our mission is to share warmth through our quilts with our community.”
While the group doesn’t have a formal devotion or Bible study when they gather, the women share concerns, discuss prayer needs, and often chat about the previous Sunday’s sermons.
“We are a praying group,” Duff said. “We lift each other’s concerns, pray for one another, and we often will share something we’ve read that’s meaningful to us. We are tied together by our faith.”
The friendships Cheryl Fletcher has formed through Grateful Threads are especially meaningful.
A member of Lee Street UMC, Fletcher grew up with a grandmother who quilted and has dabbled in sewing for years. She took one of Duff’s quilting classes and loved the fellowship and creativity she felt and appreciates that the group works together towards a common goal.
“These people give of themselves. Everybody has different talents, and our group has a talent: we can take fabric and shape it into a quilt that can keep veterans or foster children or cancer patients warm,” Fletcher said. “We come from different denominations, but you feel the love from these ladies.”
Both Fletcher and Duff are grateful to Lee Street UMC for allowing the group to use the parsonage. Before, they met in one room at a local charter school. Now they are able to spread their 15 sewing machines out in a three-bedroom house and use another room for fabric. The parsonage has been a blessing, they said.
“You can feel the presence of the Lord when you’re there,” Fletcher said. “You’re sitting with other Christians and you know what you’re doing is for others. It’s a special feeling. It’s very rewarding. It’s not about us. It’s about what we can give back to the community to spread the warmth to others.”