Loretta Moore, one of about a dozen women dedicated to making quilts for others at Flint Baptist Church, considers the mission addictive.
“Once you get started, you can’t find a place to quit,” Mrs. Moore said. “There’s not a lot I can do, but I can do this for the Lord.”
The quilters, called Lydia Missions Group after Lydia, the seller of purple in the Bible, formed about 10 years ago and distribute their quilts anywhere they find a need across the U.S.
In 2016 alone, they made 218 machine-sewn quilts that they contributed to various groups including: Wounded Warriors; Project Linus, which gives handmade blankets to children in need; Azleway Boys Ranch; Hospice of East Texas patients; refugees in Alaska; and nursing home residents.
Lydia project supporters donate 90 percent of the fabric and give monetary donations.
Group members work at the church from 8 a.m. until noon on Mondays. Many are so enthusiastic that they take material home and continue the work there.
“Anybody that’s interested can come and learn how if they don’t know how,” Mrs. Moore said. “Everybody can do something.”
Karen Pensinger, Lydia Missions Group member for about six years, started out trimming, pinning and sewing the edges of quilts. She worked her way up to quilting.
“I just wanted to do something different and I chose this,” she said. “I love it.”
On each patriotic quilt for veterans, Mrs. Pensinger manipulates the quilting machine to write, “Jesus loves you” and on the next strip “Thank you for your service.”
In addition, the women iron a label onto every quilt that says, “Jesus Loves You, Lydia Mission Group, Flint Baptist Church, Flint, TX.”
The quilts range in size. Most fall into one of three categories: crib-size; lap quilts that will not be caught in a wheelchair; or twin-size bed. Occasionally the quilts are larger, such as a king-size quilt and a queen-size quilt donated to victims of the 2015 Van tornado.
Jeanne Johnston saw firsthand how the quilts make a difference when her parents received some while in hospice and they made their rooms look homey.
Because of that experience and feeling the Lord has blessed her, Mrs. Johnston joined Lydia Missions Group out of a desire to give back.
“This is one way I could because I like to sew,” she said.
No one makes a complete quilt. Each member of the Lydia Missions Group plays a different role in production of the quilts, taking into account what each one likes to do or does not want to do.
Some members of the group make kits. The plastic bags are complete with everything needed for piecing blocks for a quilt top. Others take the kits and sew the blocks to create the quilt top.
A few take hems out of sheets that are used for the backing of twin-size quilts. Sheets are used because they are cheaper than fabric. A woman runs the sheets through a dryer and irons them to remove wrinkles.
Like making a sandwich, some quilt together the quilt top, batting in the middle and backing.
Making the quilts is “a tangible form of love and a way to show that we care and are thinking of you,” group member Kathy Miller said.
A newcomer who has been participating for about six months, Brenda Westphall said, “I love the fact we are helping. We are not just doing quilts for ourselves; we are doing them for other people. I love being here with all my friends.”
Pat Bragg turned to making quilts after retiring from working in an oncologist’s office.
“After I retired, my house was very clean and I said there’s got to be more to retirement than this,” she said. “I asked the Lord to give me something to do and when I went to church that following Sunday, there it was in the bulletin that they needed people to come here to work. That was my sign.”
Mrs. Bragg learned to quilt by coming to the Lydia Missions Group sessions and has been at it for four or five years now.
“Doing something for someone else is a wonderful feeling,” she said. “We talk, we laugh, and we have a really good time here. We love each other. It’s a wonderful place to be.”