Quilters share talents to help comfort others

Using their skills to turn bits of fabric into colorful quilts, five women from St. Joseph Parish in Platte Center bring warmth and comfort to others.

Their creations are donated to clients of homeless and domestic abuse shelters, nursing homes, veteran’s homes, and for benefits and fundraisers, said Barb Schmidt, 73.

She and other longtime parishioners Delores Jaixen, 81, Elverine Pillen, 82, Cathy Arndt, 76, and Dianne Foltz, 71, spend each Wednesday afternoon plying their craft at the parish center as part of the parish’s St. Joseph Mission Sewing Group.

One organization benefiting from the quilts is the Center for Survivors in Columbus, which assists victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other abuse.

"It’s comforting and warming for our clients," said Tracie Pilar, volunteer coordinator. "Leaving those incidents, they often come with nothing … so when they come to the center, we give them the quilts to keep.

"For families trying to re-establish homes because they’ve had to leave and don’t have much, we’ll give them quilts to go into their new homes," she said.

And when staff are called to the hospital to help a sexual assault victim, they take a quilt with them, she said. "They are soft and comforting – it gives them a sense of security," Pilar said.

Quilts range in size, from baby to lap to full-size for beds, Schmidt said.

Hand quilting is time consuming – up to 100 hours for a large quilt, and about 40 hours for a baby quilt, Jaixen said.

In recent years, the group made about eight quilts per year, she said, but in 2007, they produced 20, including numerous baby quilts.

Schmidt said the group also makes and sells quilts to individuals, usually for about $125 to $150 each, and the money goes to the parish. Quilts made for raffles or fundraisers usually bring about $50.

Begun in 1976 with about 15 members, the group is smaller now, but is hoping to grow. "The younger women are usually busy, either working or taking care of their kids," said Schmidt, who has been part of the group since her retirement three years ago. "But we’re trying to get a new generation started," said Jaixen, who included her 14-year-old granddaughter, Allison, in their May 31 quilting session.

The women are humble about their ministry, saying simply that they do it to help others and their church, and for the fun and social time it provides.

The women also have been active over the years assisting the parish in various ministries and in whatever ways the pastor needed.

"I really wanted to help the church out," Schmidt said. "When I was little, my mom and dad always said it’s important to help other people."

"We’re just doing for others and helping the needy," Foltz said.

"I enjoy doing it and pleasing people," Pillen said. "They seem to really appreciate it."

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