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Sparks UMC’s activity mats help dementia patients


By Kara Witherow, Editor

When Pat Scrogham’s mother, Margery Resser, was living with dementia, Scrogham looked high and low for something to keep her mother’s hands busy.

“Their hands need to be moving,” Scrogham said.

She searched online but was unable to find exactly what she was looking for.

“I had even gotten her a baby toy that she could twist and twist, and it made her happy.”

Coming up empty at local stores and craft fairs and not satisfied with what she found online, Scrogham decided she and the Sparks United Methodist Church sewing group, the Joyful Stitchers, could create what she envisioned.

She explained the details to one of the sewers, and a couple of months later Scrogham was presented with a small lap blanket.

“We thought it was so neat and Mom just loved it,” she said, getting teary as she remembered her mother, who passed away in March. “It had a red zipper, and that’s Mom’s favorite color.” 

That one activity blanket sparked a ministry. Scrogham saw how much her mother enjoyed working with her blanket and asked the Joyful Stitchers group to make more.

Each dementia/Alzheimer’s activity blanket is made of nine eight-inch squares of different fabric. They’re sewn together, filling is added, and a back is attached. Each square has an embellishment sewn onto it: a button or two, a couple of bows, a zipper, a piece of Velcro. Those who receive the mats like to hold them in their lap and play with them.

“They really loved it,” Scrogham said. “You’d hear the zip, zip. They’d practice putting the button in the hole and taking it out. They can do it over and over again and it’s like brand new. It’s so nice to see them work with them.”

The Joyful Stitchers made about 65 of the blankets and gave a few to each senior home and nursing home in the area. The nurses and physical therapists praised the blankets, Scrogham said, and one even asked if they could be bought in bulk.

Somewhat time consuming to make, Joyful Stitcher Sylvia Kent estimates it takes one Monday morning sewing session – three or four hours – to make the blankets. Scrogham cuts all of the fabric, Kent sews them together, and the two of them sew on the embellishments.

The work was fun and rewarding, Scrogham said, and it felt good to do something helpful. Kent and Scrogham are the only two Joyful Stitchers left of the five women who were originally making the blankets, but Scrogham says with the renewed interest they may begin making the blankets again. They’re currently making keychains to give away at Christmas, but are always looking for new projects that will help others.

Kent appreciates the opportunity to serve while staying busy.

“It gives me something to do and it helps other people, too,” she said.

For Scrogham, whose mother was a member of the Joyful Stitchers, the blankets are close to her heart and a way to show others that there are those who care.

“It’s just nice to do this,” she said. “Mom absolutely loved it.”

If you have a story of how God is using your local congregation to transform the community, please contact The South Georgia Conference Communications team wants to tell your story.

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