GREENFIELD — Tamara Woodsmall remembers the day her son lost one of his legs in an accident at work.
A couple from church showed up at the hospital with a quilt for him. They stayed for a long time, talking with her. She remembers how meaningful their support was to her on that difficult day.
Woodsmall is part of Squares of Love, a group at Northside Christian Church that fashions 42-by-70-inch quilts from 6-inch squares. The quilts are given to people mourning a loved one, welcoming a new baby, facing illness or injury, or otherwise needing some encouragement.
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“I love to sew, and I enjoy helping other people,” Woodsmall said. “I’ve personally seen how much it touches someone to receive a quilt.”
Woodsmall remembers what it meant to a friend whose husband was fighting cancer. He received a quilt and slept with it each night. Since his passing, the quilt has been a comfort to his widow.
Dawn Ramey, who helps coordinate the quilt-making group, said she had a friend who also found meaningful the quilt he received during his fight with cancer. He was later buried with it.
Ramey has been filling two binders that help chronicle the stories of scores of quilts given away since 2010. Some of the white forms slipped inside plastic sleeves are accompanied by a photo, while others record just the facts: Who requested the quilt, whom it was for, and why the requester thought that person would appreciate a quilt.
A few thank-you cards kept with the two zippered binders bear notes from men and women who did, indeed, appreciate the gesture.
“There is a very prayerful and powerful message woven into the blanket,” one recipient wrote. “I feel very blessed to have received one.”
The binders stand neatly on a wire shelf in a room in the church basement, across from a wall of wooden shelves stacked with colorful folded fabric. Some pieces are donated by church members. Some are discovered at yard sales. Some are bought with an occasional unsolicited donation from a grateful quilt recipient, hoping to pay forward the kindness for someone else.
A few shelves below the binders are three sewing machines. Sometimes, all three are pressed into service for joining quilt squares when the group gathers.
Typically, six or seven people gather for one of the group’s twice-a-month meetings in the fellowship hall of the church, 1304 Greenfield Drive. Meetings can last for a couple of hours as members cut, stitch and talk.
“We really have a good time,” said Donna Christmas, the group member who took a quilt to Woodsmall. “The fellowship is great.”
Some gravitate to the same task each meeting; Ramey, for example, likes to cross-stitch a tag that is sewn on each quilt. Others do a little of everything. The process includes cutting pieces, sewing blocks together, pinning the pieced cross design to batting and backing, sewing the edge and tying the quilt.
“Everybody’s hands are on it,” Ramey said. “It means more when you have that many people that care.”
Ramey’s contribution is the cross-stitched tag. Christmas and Woodsmall had each sewn before joining the group, but they hadn’t quilted.
The work of the group gave Woodsmall the courage to attempt quilting outside of the group. She’s contemplating her next project, likely a baby quilt, as the son who was in the hospital a year ago is soon going to make her a grandmother.
The ministry isn’t necessarily about bringing people from outside into the church. Some recipients attend other churches or perhaps don’t attend church at all, but the quilters cheerfully give quilts, regardless. Ramey knows there’s a comfort beyond warmth in those quilts, and with each one Squares of Love is handing out hope.
“As long as they know about God’s love, they can find it,” she said. “That’s all I want. I want somebody to know that God loves them.”
The Squares of Love group at Northside Christian Church makes and gives away lap quilts. Each is accompanied by a leaflet explaining the symbolism of the quilt design. According to it, each one features:
-Seventy hand-cut squares represent the 70 that went out two by two to spread the Good News.
-There are seven columns representing the seven churches.
-There are 10 rows for the Ten Commandments.
-The cross is a visual reminder of our Lord’s sacrifice and is made of 12 squares to represent the 12 disciples
-There are two different patterns of fabric on the front that shows our one-on-one relationship with the Lord.
-We weave our lives together with His, and no one else can take us to heaven or carry us through.
-The tag is on the right hand of the cross, as Jesus is at the right hand of God.
-The lap quilt shows us how we are covered by the free gift of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for our sins.
“The Lord takes the broken pieces of our lives and makes us a new creation in Him,” reads another part of the brochure. “We, at Squares of Love, take scraps of donated materials and make them into something beautiful to spread God’s love.”
If you have extra fabric, Squares of Love welcomes donations. Call Northside Christian Church at 317-318-1312, or fill out a general contact form at www.nccin.org.