Warm welcome: Church group crafts blankets and gives them to organizations serving babies

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NEW PALESTINE — The fabrics, neatly folded and stacked, fill shelf after shelf in the metal cabinet.

Pastel flowers popping off a navy blue background. Soothing streaks of purple with subtle lavender polka dots. Cozy brown plaid flannel.

In the room next to the cabinet-lined hallway, Deborah Carey is bent over a round white table, using a needle to poke yarn into fabric with bunnies on it, so she can make knots for a tied quilt.

“We just tack it together,” she says of the fabric-batting-fabric sandwich layers the knots pull close.

She’s one of several women who gather twice a month through the fall and winter to make tied quilts in the Baby Blanket Ministry at Brookville Road Community Church.

The women meet for several hours on a Tuesday, chatting and tying quilts. The tied quilts go home with Janelle Adams, who will add edging and tag each one with a Bible verse reference.

Later she and her husband, Curtis, will deliver the quilts to various organizations that work with babies and children, such as Healthy Families Hancock County, Life Choices Care Center in Greenfield and Clarity Pregnancy Services in Shelbyville.

In 1996, she was looking for a way to serve and praying God would show her the right avenue.

“I walked into church, and there was a sign it (the blanket ministry) was just starting up,” she recalls.

When the leader of the ministry later moved, Adams became leader. Several of the women participating today became interested in the quilting after attending a Bible study with Adams and hearing her talk about it.

The quilts measure 45 by 36 inches or 45 by 45 inches, depending on the width of the bolt of fabric. Since 1996, more than 9,000 blankets have been made and given away — most of them here, but some as far away as Africa. Some of the fabric is purchased by the church, but much of it comes via donations of money or fabric, be it flannel, cotton, polyester or some other kind.

“We use most anything … long as it’s warm,” Adams says.

The verse cited on the tag she sews onto the quilts is Matthew 19:14: “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Adams says, “to know you’re making (something) for these little babies.”

Groups receiving the blankets appreciate the gesture. Katie Fletcher, site supervisor for Healthy Families, said new parents receive a blanket during the welcome baby visit.

“We’ve gotten several comments that it’s just so nice to have something for their baby,” Fletcher said. “We also see them throughout our visits. They still keep them and they’re using them.”

Linda Vodney, center director at Life Choices Care Center, said several churches supply blankets to the center. If parents come in needing a blanket for a child, they can receive one; the center also has clothing up to size 2T.

Also, when a woman comes in for a pregnancy test and the test is positive, people at Life Choices give her a congratulatory gift bag filled with various items, including two blankets — typically a crocheted one, and a tied quilt such as those made at Brookville Road.

Churches bringing blankets often tell Life Choices staff that someone has prayed for the future recipients. Knowing that, Vodney said, “We tell them women of the church have made them and have prayed over them for them and their babies.

“We want them to know people in the community care about them and are supporting them.”

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