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MINONK — The Immanuel Lutheran Church continues its annual quest to stitch together aid for the world.

Every two weeks, groups of women get together to sew quilts, which then have been sent to St. John's Lutheran Church in Bloomington to be designated for Lutheran World Relief.

One group of women meets from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays to sew the fronts and backs of the quilts. The other group meets Wednesday nights to tie the backs to the fronts.

"We usually work for about an hour," said Shiela Renken, who helps tie the quilts on Wednesday. "My favorite part is seeing all of the quilts in October and knowing that they go to people in need.

"It's really neat and I would like to see more people join in," said Renken. "It's only once every two weeks and isn't hard work."

Volunteer Edith Hartzler said the project is part of Immanuel Lutheran Church, but anyone can join. "We can always use the help," she said.

This year, Immanuel Lutheran sent 284 quilts to Lutheran World Relief.

Lutheran World Relief works with partners in 50 countries to help people grow food, improve health, strengthen communities, build livelihoods and recover from disasters.

"They provide for the needy in all lands," said Mary Lou Hedstrom, who helps organize the annual drive, which takes place on the last Saturday in October.

"We had two semis full from 108 churches in Illinois," said Hedstrom.

The organization collected quilts, clothing, hygiene supplies and other items. The items were bundled and taken to the Lutheran World Relief headquarters in Minnesota, where they are distributed worldwide.

"This year we sent about 20 baby layettes, diapers, and we also sent some material that people can make clothes with," said Dorothy Harms, who is a volunteer at Immanuel Lutheran.

"A lot goes to Africa and the area that is the former U.S.S.R.," said Hedstrom.

Hedstrom said she was impressed that some small churches will send 300 to 400 quilts.

"It would be so great if we could somehow track where the quilts go," said Nancy Redenius, who volunteers at Immanuel Lutheran.

"One time we got a letter from Mother Teresa," said Harms. "She wrote us a letter and said she didn't know what she would give her help for Christmas. Then she was delivered a box of quilts."

The men and women who make the quilts work hard throughout the year, and some take the donated material home so they can sew it during the summer months, when the group does not meet.

"We do take material and quilt blocks home to sew," said Eileen Young, a volunteer at Immanuel Lutheran. "To get 300 quilts ready to send off in October, you have to do more than just sew on every other Tuesday."

Immanuel Lutheran has been participating in this program for probably 50 years, said Young.


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