Alabama Baptists use quilting to help needy in Appalachiacomment (0)
May 2, 2013
By Anna Keller
Helen Harrison says she couldn’t escape being a quilter.
Her mother and both grandmothers quilted, as did all of the aunts on her dad’s side of the family.
Though Harrison put off getting started with the craft until she was a young adult, once she began she knew she had a lifelong hobby.
That’s why when Harrison heard about a need for quilts and blankets in Appalachia, she felt sure she could do something to help.
“About three years ago at Shocco Springs (Conference Center), there was a missionary from West Virginia who told us about the severe need families in that area have,” said Harrison, a member of First Baptist Church, Enterprise. “It’s cold there, and many people don’t have heat, so they were looking for ways to help keep those people warm. I thought it sounded like it would be a fun project.”
Harrison said initially she didn’t think much more about the endeavor, but then the same missionary, Bill Barker, came to speak at her church the following year, talking again about the need for blankets. Harrison thought she should get a group of women together from First, Enterprise, to make quilts.
“I got a call from Helen, who wanted to know if I could use some quilts,” Barker said. “I shared with her that we needed quilts for babies, and she got back to me and said they would start making quilts as a group. It just took off from there.”
At first, Harrison had about five women volunteer, and these days the group is up to eight participants. If the women don’t know how to quilt, Harrison gives them a lesson, and the women meet every Thursday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. in the church’s basement.
Though they have sent dozens of quilts to families in need via Barker, Harrison said they have never heard anything from the recipients. However, they know each quilt is making a difference to the families who they are given to.
“This group has meant so much to Bill Barker’s ministry,” said Sonny Moore, pastor of First, Enterprise. “It is a blessing to our church and a challenge to our people that everyone can be used in the Lord’s work.”
One particular delivery that sticks in Barker’s mind is a time when he had several quilts with him and was attending an event he’d been invited to in Appalachia where new mothers in need would be given supplies. When he arrived, one of the hosts mentioned that they had everything they needed except blankets.
“I asked, ‘How many quilts do you need?’ and she told me they needed 28,” Barker said. “That was exactly the number of quilts I had with me. I remember that she started crying when I told her that.”
Harrison and her fellow quilters enjoy hearing reports like this from Barker, and she said she wants the women and children who receive these quilts to know that the quilters love what they’re doing and hope their labor of love will help keep families warm. The quilters attach a tag to each quilt they send that reads: “From the FBC Enterprise Quilters. May God bless you and your family.”
“These ladies are involved in missions, and they never leave Enterprise, Alabama, yet they’ve touched lives in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky,” Barker said. “And they’ve done it with a needle, a piece of thread and a piece of cloth.”