The concept for my project started one year ago in March of 2003. It has gone from "my project" to "our project", a multi-community project that is stretching and growing mile by mile.
After listening to a local pregnancy crisis center director speak at our church, my thought was that we could be doing more for these young mothers, who are often on their own. My 85 year old mother and I started with simple grannie square afghans. I next took the project back to the women's group at our church. After getting many women in my own church involved, we took it to other churches in our community and asked them to join with us.
This past April, I spoke at a church retreat where two other churches in our denomination decided to join with us. We will be working with them until they are self-sustaining as separate chapters of Stitches Of Love
We started with an infant blanket for each mother passing through the crisis center. After noticing some of these infants were in need of hats, we added matching hats with each blanket. We then noticed many of these young women already had a toddle. The next step of our project was to produce toddler or sibbling blankets so sibbling can coddle while mom is feeding the new brother or sister.
The next step of our project was in support of a home for ventilator-dependent infants and children. We choose the brightest colors for most of their blankets, as their life is often limited to the confines of their group home.
How much time is spent? I couldn't begin to count the hours. I spend hours on the computer trying to locate donors, churches, etc. Much of my spare time goes into knitting or crocheting.
Before I end my story, yes, there is another benefit. I serenity produced by the repetitive of handwork that raises the serotonin level. It is truly relaxing.
After getting the third stage under our belts, we then started on the next phase. We noted a need for demise and preemie outfits. We are now producing these for a network of 6 hospitals. Our goal is to blanket eveyone in need, including the parents of those stillborns, preemies wo are not strong enough to be viable and fetal demise. Each little outfit is produced with a matching blanket, either to be buried with the child or given to the parents as an item that belonged to their baby. Each little outfit is adorned with a heart-shaped button that can be removed for keepsake or buried with the baby.
With each new phase while we are getting it underway and well-supported, we plan for the next phase. We are now in the planning stage for baby layettes to be given to those in need as they leave the hospital.
Our volunteers are wonderful and it it truly a mentoring program with the older members teaching the teens, and even younger. It is never to early to learn to give back. Each item is sent off with a card and a reminder that we are in full support of their families.
With the network of six hospital, I will be contacting all area churches to help with them. This is approximately 200-300 churches. We will continue to work in this method for each hospital we choose to support.
Each new chapter will also choose which hospital, homes, centers, etc. they wish to support. We will mentor them each step of the way and help with their yarn supply.
I might add, many manufacturers have donated goods to us when learning of our project. One of the first and largest supporters was Lion Brand Yarn. I frequently come home from work to many large boxes of yarn. On these days it is like Christmas, and I can't wait to see what is inside.
This yarn is then given to any crafters who are in need and provides a way for those on fixed incomes to be large producers without having to spend their own money to do so.
Why this project? It is our way of serving a God who good to all of us. We may have different beliefs, difference church affiliations but we all have a common denominator of service to God and His people. We may never know how our work effects some of the recipients. We do know the children who are ventilator-dependent are thrilled with their brightly colored blankets that adorn their beds. Who is to say that in years to come, some baby who received a blanket and cap doesn't pick up the card that was enclosed and know that his gift came from an entire community.