MALTA – St. Peter Lutheran Church celebrated a quarter century this weekend. [Read more…]
MALTA – The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive on Jan. 18 from 7:30 A.M. until 11:30 A.M. at St. Peter Lutheran Church, at 2776 Rt. 9.
BY JENNIE GREY
The world can be a cold and desolate place for people in need, but help can come in many forms. One form is the longtime members of the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Malta, who are using cotton fabric and thread, as well as their hearts and hands, to create quilts for some of the poorest among us.
Sarah Fisher of Saratoga Springs stepped forward as the coordinator after hearing about the Lutheran World Relief (LWR) Project Comfort Fund. The organization distributes handmade quilts, school supplies, layettes, and sewing kits to people in many struggling countries.
“Church women in particular have been making quilts for Lutheran World Relief for the past 50 years,” Fisher said. “At first, Lutherans were helping displaced European families after World War II. Recipients changed over time.”
Pastor Peter Klotz, who is also a Malta town councilman, supports the project and the group.
“The ladies here at St. Peter Lutheran Church are readying a dozen quilts that will make a very big difference in the lives of people who receive them,” he said.
Several of the St. Peter group are skilled quilters, among them Pat Miles of Ballston Spa.
“Pat is an expert quilter,” Fisher said. “She’s won contests. So for her to help us out is great.”
Mildred Valentine of Saratoga Springs described the process of their quilt-making. “People donate fabric to us, or we buy it at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store,” she said. “We use only 100 percent cotton.”
Garage sales have also yielded a treasure trove of fabric. Church secretary Gail Auletta of Ballston Lake found a roomful of material at one sale, which the seller simply gave to her that snowy fall day.
“It was the material Mecca of the world,” Fisher said.
Using a rotary cutter or cutting by hand, the quilters make 48 11-inch squares of their chosen fabrics. Colors and patterns are arranged as suits the sewers, then polyfill is slipped between the top and the backing of the quilts. Three knots, which Valentine said represent the Christian Trinity, are tied off on each square.
The finished product is lovely, yet sturdy.
“These quilts are not meant to become family heirlooms,” Fisher noted. Instead, the quilts have a dozen practical functions for their receiving families.
“The quilts can be used as blankets, ground covers, roofs, bags, and towels.” Valentine said. “Quilts can even be utilized to carry babies on their mothers’ backs.”
The St. Peter women meet at the church to quilt between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month. People come and go, some bringing fabric, some cutting it out, some sewing, and some helping with the packing and shipping.
Valentine and her husband, John, recently took the group’s 12 finished products to a Waterbury, Vermont, pickup location while en route to Maine. Lutheran World Relief has 12 ingathering locations in the Northeast. St. Peter hopes to become the next such place in April 2013, said Fisher, who used to be a pickup location coordinator.
“But the year is not over,” said Carolyn Fjellman of Saratoga Springs. She intended to go right on making quilts. “I like working with my hands,” she said.
Camaraderie and enjoyment are as much part of the quilting experience for this group as the wish to help people.
“I look forward to spending time with my friends,” Fjellman said.
“It’s just so much fun,” said Marlu Sidenstick of Ballston Spa.
Valentine liked doing something that will be appreciated, yet for which she will receive no thanks. Fisher agreed, saying the project was a great way to help people one will never meet.
“One of the recipients said to the LWR, ‘Tonight, my little girl will be warm,’” Valentine said. “That was so touching.”
The St. Peter group is always ready to welcome new quilters, from experienced crafters to interested beginners. For information about the project call Sarah Fisher at 518-306-4667 or the St. Peter Lutheran Church at 518-583-4153.