by Dennis Dalman
Though it might be hard for most Americans to realize, a good quilt is so prized by impoverished people in Third World countries it literally becomes a coveted life-and-death object.
A quilt is often used for the birth of a child, and that same quilt – years later – can be used as a “shroud” in which to wrap someone who is deceased.
That’s why the Celebration Lutheran Quilters Group in Sartell is so happy to give away the quilts they make. They know how each one is so valued and so needed by grateful recipients far and wide.
This coming week, the quilters will bring 75 of their homemade quilts to Lutheran World Relief, based in St. Paul. From there, they will be shipped to people in the poorest of countries. Besides birth and death, recipients use the quilts to help keep children warm, to keep items in or even to keep sand from blowing into faces during a raging sandstorm.
Last weekend, the quilters draped the 75 quilts across the backs of the pews at Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell, creating a blaze of brilliant patchwork colors throughout the church.
Every year, the congregation enjoys seeing the riot of cheerful colors when they enter the church for services.
All of the quilts are a bit smaller than standard twin size, said Jan Farley, one of the 10 quilting ladies in the group.
The women do their quilting throughout the year at Celebration, of which all are members. For eight years, they’ve been making the quilts – 75 to 100 of them each year – and all are donated through Lutheran World Relief.
All of the quilts are patchwork quilts, with inside linings. The materials for the quilts are all donated by individuals from scraps or bolts of cloth they find in their homes or in the basements, attics or storerooms of relatives when those relatives pass on or enter nursing homes. In some cases, huge quantities of material or yarn are donated simply because the donors have no room to store them or because they have abandoned their sewing or quilting hobbies.
Generally, the quilters do not use patterns for the quilts, but for each one they try to coordinate colors in combinations of attractive colors and patterns, based on the materials they have on hand.
In 1990, Farley and a friend of hers took a Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education class on quilting. They both enjoyed it so much they made a quilt together and then kept quilting from then on. Farley’s daughter, Jolaine Schreifels of Kimball, is also an excellent quilter and even owns a long-arm quilting machine.
Farley generally cuts out all of the square patches for the quilting group.
The Celebration Quilters Group is always seeking more materials. Those who want to donate can bring them to the church or make a check donation at the church.
The other members of the quilting group, besides Farley, are Judy Fiene, Lori Flom, Elaine Hagen, Jackie Lundstrom, Linda Orman, Vonnie Ottem, Diane Weber-Grand, Rosemary Winch and Carol Ann Zika.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.