The basics: Sew Caring is a women’s sewing ministry made up of 16 members at Immanuel Lutheran Church in the community of Easton. The group started in 2012 under the direction of Laura Nielsen.
What the group does: It annually takes on mission projects to help people in need. In 2012-13, the group sewed 90 dresses for children in Africa. In 2014, the women sewed together 80 pillows and crocheted 25 hats for people battling cancer. The pillows and hats were distributed by Sisterhood of the Survivors.
In 2015, the group plans to sew baby blankets that will be distributed through Lutheran World Relief.
Why the group does it: Nielsen has a strong interest in sewing. She also coordinates the church’s quilting group that meets monthly. Nielsen’s sisters, Marilyn Hemmel of Pendleton, N.J., and Janice Mitchell of Farmington Hills, Mich., regularly box up and mail scraps of material to her.
So Nielsen came up with a creative way to put the material to use while reaching out to others.
The turning point: Upon arriving at Immanuel Lutheran Church in September 2013, Jennifer Madsen, wife of Immanuel Lutheran Pastor Kris Madsen, joined Sew Caring and suggested the idea to sew pillows and hats for people suffering through cancer. There is a similar ministry at Antioch Lutheran Church in Hoagland, Ind., the Madsens’ previous church.
Details, details: The group gathered in the church social hall on a Saturday in January. Some brought the hats that they began crocheting several months earlier. The material was cut — about 8 inches by 12 inches — and ready to go. Members operated five sewing machines to sew the cuts into pillow cases. Women also worked two irons. Others formed an assembly line to stuff batting into small openings in the pillows. Then, members hand-sewed the pillows shut.
Their efforts became more personal as they remembered several church members recovering from breast cancer. The pillows are just the right size for the women to tuck under their arms while driving as padding between them and their seat belts.
What others say: Kris Madsen said the group plays an important church role reaching out to others. He prayed over the pillows and hats on a Sunday when they were dedicated. “When you see all the pillows, it’s humbling because you think of the people who will benefit by them. You see faith in action.”
How you can help: Nielsen encourages Valley churches to start sewing groups as ministries. Sew Caring also accepts donations through the church office. Details: (559) 237-7909.
— Ron Orozco