High-performance quilters

Volunteers at Resurrection Lutheran Church churn out more than 100 quilts a year

Posted: Wednesday, September 04, 2002


Correction to story

Many quilters create about two or three quilts a year.

A group of volunteers at Resurrection Lutheran Church, though, have put together more than 1,200 quilts since they began quilting together in 1991, and they've been getting more efficient with practice.

"The pastor's wife in 1991 started the program, and we started with old draperies and pants and sewed them together in people's homes," said Florence Fachs, who organizes the Wednesday morning quilting circle.

The quilters now use sheets and supplies donated by community members and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The group cuts, ties and sews the relatively simple quilts at a brisk pace; they will have completed nearly 150 between May and October of this year.

In October, the quilts will be blessed in a special service at Resurrection Lutheran Church and sent to Lutheran World Relief, a nonprofit organization that will distribute the quilts to needy people worldwide.

"We never know where our quilts go," Fachs said, adding they are used as room dividers, as sacks to carry belongings or for warmth.

The group also makes layettes and school kits composed of a handmade bag filled with school supplies. According to its Web site, www.lwr.org, Lutheran World Relief has been distributing quilts and other relief to people in need around the world since 1945. Quilts have been sent to Kosovo, to earthquake victims in Turkey and to victims of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras.

Lutheran World Relief produces videos showing its volunteers how the quilts and other donations are used.

"It's really impressive to see how they're used in the videos," said Carole Oien, a quilter who said she has known some of her fellow volunteers for more than 30 years.

Most of the volunteers are members of the church, but Fochs said anybody is welcome, and no experience is necessary.

"We'll teach anyone who wants to come," she said. In early August the group was joined by two travelers from Nebraska.

"They were visiting their son up here and they saw our announcement in the paper so they decided to come by for a morning to help us out," said Julie Neyhart, another volunteer.

Fachs said the group has had quilters as young as 16 and as old as 98.

"This is such simple quilting," Fachs said. "We just cut, tie and sew. The biggest decision we have to make is the color of the ties, and that's the funnest part," she said.

"What's fun about this kind of volunteering is that you're working with friends and meeting new friends and you're doing something good for the world," said Oien.

To volunteer or donate supplies, contact Resurrection Lutheran Church at 586-2380.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.

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