By Jamie Rieger
Every week since late January, a group of ladies have been meeting in the lower floor of the Zion Lutheran Church in Bow Island to sew and put together quilts and other items to be sent overseas for people in need.
With a sewing machine humming away in the background on Thursday morning and manned by Dorothy Nelson, Ruby Hirch, Cindy Hansen, Dorothy Nelson, and Ursilla Gross keep busy doing other tasks, such as knotting and pinning.
It is a yearly project for the Bow Island group, a project that started many years ago to assist people in need who were suffering through the effects of the Second World War. Hirch has been involved for the past 53 years.
Despite only starting this season’s quilting projects on Jan. 25, the ladies were working on quilt #171 for this year, quite a feat for a small group of people who gather in a church basement for a few hours a week to work on their quilts.
However, they are a humble group and say that they have help from other quilters from far and wide.
“We have lots of help. There is a lady in Seven Persons who is doing quilt tops and a gentleman named Garth in Chilliwack who sends us 50 to 60 tops a year,” said Cindy Hansen. “There are lots of people who do the work all year and we do the piecing.”
When the work being done at the tables proved to be hard on the back, Hansen’s husband, Mitch raised the height of the tables using PVC pipes.
“So, now it’s not so hard on our backs,” said Hansen.
The ladies make the quilts for the Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s We Care program. Since 1946, the organization has been shipping items to people in need, particularly those impacted by natural disasters, war, famine, and poverty.
It was in 1940 when a group of North American Lutheran leaders met to address the needs of people during World War II. Soon thereafter, large-scale relief operations were planned and clothing, bedding blankets, and food being shipped to Europe.
Canadian Lutheran World Relief evolved from this group, formally getting established in 1946, responding to needs in post-war Germany. That same year, they also formed the Canadian Christian Council for the Resettlement of Refugees, in partnership with agencies from the Catholic, Mennonite, and Baptist churches. Over the next three years, approximately 30,000 German refugees were resettled in Canada with the help of CLWR. Thousands more refugees from other European countries would resettle in Canada over the next decade.
The local ladies also knit and crochet pneumonia vests, make dresses from pillow cases, and send sewing kits and material overseas.
“There are lots of opportunities to just help,” said Hansen.
They also put together packages for new mothers that include two receiving blankets, sleepers, and cloth diapers. The items are packaged in a receiving blanket and pinned shut with diaper pins.
“Diaper pins are getting hard to find these days because nobody uses cloth diapers any more,” said Hansen.
Once they have items ready to be shipped, the packaged quilts and other items are taken to Home Hardware in Redcliff or Taber, who sends them to the We Care warehouse at Winnipeg to be shipped around the world.