By Kara Witherow, Editor
Every Monday, a group of five women from Irwinville United Methodist Church gather in the church’s fellowship hall to sew, stitch, and make small talk while joyfully sharing God’s love.
They’re there to make quilts for the children at the Methodist Home for Children and Youth, something they’ve been doing for more than 12 years. They’ve handmade hundreds of quilts over the years, lovingly crafting each one.
The quilts are more than just warm, colorful blankets. They are gifts of love that let the children know they are cared for and prayed for.
“We are blessed by the amazing work and powerful prayerful support of this incredible group of ladies,” said Alison Evans, CEO of The Methodist Home. “Their gifts bless our children in so many wonderful ways! Nothing can compare to the comfort of a handmade quilt.”
Ann Barker sewed all of her daughter’s clothes when they were younger and didn’t have the desire or time to take up quilting then, but as they grew up and Barker no longer needed to sew, she felt called to learn to make quilts for others.
“The Lord laid it on my heart and I feel like I am doing the Lord’s work,” she said of making quilts for The Children’s Home.
She’s self-taught, having learned by reading books, watching videos, and watching others.
She’s been quilting for 25 years now, and started the Irwinville UMC quilting group about a dozen years ago. The group of four or five faithful quilters made 29 quilts last year. Some years they’ve created more than 40 to give to children at The Methodist Home.
“It’s a joy to do something I love to do and bring joy to the children. I think about the children while I quilt,” she said. “It’s a joy to do something you love to do for these children.”
Quilting is a time-consuming process and just one quilt can sometimes take up to one year to make depending on the complexity of the pattern. A pattern has to be chosen; fabric has to be gathered, cut, and sewn; and then blocks are made and quilted together.
“It takes a good while; it’s not an overnight thing. It’s a timely process.” Barker said of making quilts. It’s a relaxing, contemplative process, she says, and “if anything is bothering you, you sit down and think about the kids.”
Longtime quilter Virginia Hogan considers it her mission to make quilts for The Home’s children.
She was moved to help the children after visiting The Children’s Home, meeting several children, and then hearing several sermons about finding a personal ministry and mission.
“My mission is making quilts for the children’s home and serving God that way,” said Hogan, who makes eight to 10 quilts for The Children’s Home each year. “Seeing all those kids touched my heart, and it gives you a really, really good feeling to know that you’re contributing.”