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Church prepares to help children with QUILTAPALOOZA PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 February 2018 12:46


• Leader & Times

Like other churches, Liberal’s First United Methodist Church (FUMC) does its part when it comes to helping people.

The church has provided flood buckets to areas of the country stricken by above average rainfall.

For a few years now, FUMC has been providing quilts and clothing to elementary students in Liberal. Originally, these items were provided to children at Garfield Elementary, but when that school was recently closed and subsequently demolished, the focus shifted to one of Liberal’s newest schools – Prairie View Elementary.

Sunday, March 4, the church will continue with their assistance to Prairie View by hosting Quiltapalooza, a mission day to make blankets for kindergarteners and first graders at the school.

FUMC secretary Ruth Romero said the event will run from 2 to 6 p.m., and she added both volunteers and materials are welcome. 

“They are just needing donations of yards of cotton, flannel or fleece, or just donations to purchase fabric,” she said. “They will be aiming at making a hundred blankets. Donations can be delivered on Sunday at the altar or to the church office.”

FUMC is located at Third and Grant in Liberal, and in addition to materials for the quilts, Romero said Prairie View is likewise in need of clothing for children.

“They are needing pants and socks for the children,” she said. “They usually have it there for the children. Right now, they’re low on items of that because of the flu and all the kids getting sick. That’s just what they requested from the church.”

Romero said the quilting project is done through FUMC’s youth group, and similar to what the church has done in the past, this project happened when someone reached out with a need.

“I know we’ve helped with the flood buckets. Before Garfield Elementary closed, we were partnering with them, and they would just let us know what they were needing,” she said. “We would just announce it to our congregation, and we would collect items that they needed or have volunteers that would help. Now that Garfield’s no longer open, we are now joined with Prairie View.”

Romero said officials with Prairie View contact the church anytime there is a need, and FUMC leaders also help with the school’s fair at the end of the year.

“If they need items for teacher parent conferences, we might have something for the teachers to eat during the time,” he said.

Romero said the project has always had a good response.

“We’ve been receiving some donations for quilts,” she said. “So far, we’ve had a good response for it. They really like it.”

FUMC’s Bethanie Popejoy said the quilting project gave blankets to kindergarteners in 2015 and 2016.

“Every kindergartener in those schools got a blanket,” she said. “We weren’t able to get last year because we switched youth directors.”

Popejoy, who had formerly served as youth ministry director at the church, said Kaitlyn Ralston has now taken over that position, with Popejoy expanding into other ministries at FUMC. This put the church in a crunch for time in 2017, and thus the quilting project on hold.

“This year, we’re going to do first grade and second grade,” Popejoy said. “All those grade levels for the last four years, technically every kindergartener for the last four years will have received a blanket that has been at Prairie View.”

Like Romero, Popejoy said the church is in need of bulk fabric, particularly of the uncut variety, but she said many quilters have given stashes to the project.

“People purchase machines and threads and just the incredible generosity to help these kids continue to do the blanket ministry,” Popejoy said. “Now, the church is really getting involved.”

Not only do the young people get to help with the quilting, but Popejoy said they also get to deliver the blankets to the Prairie View children.

“Their parents sign them out of school and let them go for an hour or two over to the schools and let them deliver,” she said. “They are so excited to see the smiles on the kids’ faces. The little kids just hug their blankets and just love them and are just so excited to receive a blanket.”

Popejoy said with Liberal’s diverse population, many parents are confused about their children getting the gifts made by those at the church.

“Their parents bring it back and say, ‘I don’t know where he got this, but he came home with it,’” she said. “They have to explain that ‘That’s for your child to keep.’ The kids tell them, ‘I don’t have my very own blanket,’ and it’s very heart warming. It’s very validating for the program and for the kids and for what they do about the gift of love and time. These kids put some time in on their blankets to make sure that the colors match and everything’s done right, there’s no holes. To give that away to someone else not expecting anything in return is a real lesson in how to love people.”

While Quiltapalooza will run from 2 to 6, Popejoy said setup will start likely around 1 to prepare for the arrival of community members.

“When the community comes from 2 to 6, we have places to put them,” she said. “It’s going to be great.”

While the quilts are made in the early part of the year, Popejoy said the blankets are delivered personally just in time for Christmas. She said the March 4 event is a work day to help create the gifts of warmth for local children.

“Anybody that wants to help can bring their machines and bring your favorite pair of shears and your cutter and your cutting mats, irons, ironing boards,” she said. “Any donations of bulk yardage of fabric would be great. This is a work day. You come, you roll up your sleeves, you get busy.”

Blankets will likewise be made for area child advocacy centers and children displaced from their homes by fire or other emergency reasons. Snacks and refreshments will be provided for those on hand, and quilters and experienced sewing machine operators are encouraged to bring their machines, cutters, cutting mats or other equipment to help bring the love of Christ into the lives of children who will cherish their very own blankets next Christmas.

Sewing experience is not required, however, but rather simply encouraged.

“If you can operate a pair of scissors, an iron, fold or just want to visit and fellowship, you are needed too,” a press release on the event said. “If others want to help, but cannot attend, donations of two or more yards of cotton, flannel and fleece fabric are desperately needed.”

Financial, tax-deductible donations for fabric purchase may be made to the Liberal First United Methodist Church with “quilt ministry” in the notation.




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