Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a month ago ..........

Can it be just a month ago that the flooding was engulfing so much of southeast Iowa? I am sure that many who live there find it hard to believe what has happened to them this summer. As I've already mentioned, my sister lives in Iowa City but she was fortunate for her home suffered no flooding nor did their veterinary clinic. Their church, however, was virtually destroyed. Time will tell how they will recover and rebuild. It was a question posed to my sister that led me to set up the "Sew and Share" project. I asked if there was anything we could do to help? At the time there was nothing one could do because water was still rising. But I felt I needed to do something, so I asked my friends if they would sew some quilts or whatever was needed. You can see some of their responses in the sidebar. Then I asked my Bible Study friends if they would provide lunch for those who sewed (I've only lived here a year and a half but it didn't take long to discover they are very good cooks especially baked goods!). There are seven ladies in the group. First I met Arline and Doris when I began attending St. Paul's United Church of Christ (pictured below) in the fall of 2006 (we hadn't yet moved here but I wanted to find the right church and I did). Then I met Dorothy, Joan, and Carolyn in the winter of 2007. When spring came, I met Marian and Diane. They are a most wonderful group of ladies who encircled me with their friendship and have made me feel as if I have known them forever!

So we began making plans for the sewing day, and even before it took place Kate sent a little quilt, pillowcases came from Pandora and then Janet in S.C. sent some, too, and also tote bags. Then Quilter John (from an on-line quilt group that I am in) sent a check for $20 and said "use it for whatever is needed" so we bought quilt batting and with a 40% off coupon at JoAnn's we spent the money wisely. It was enough to do one large quilt, and four baby quilts. There was more money that came in and it became obvious we needed to set up an account at the bank. Tomorrow, I will mail a check to Johnson County United Way (in Iowa City) for $750! All of the funds they receive go to those in need, no administrative costs have to be taken from the donation. Thanks go to several who donated cash but especially to members of Redeemer Lutheran Church as they were extremely generous. As I mentioned before the purpose of the "Sew and Share" project wasn't necessarily to raise funds but it was nice that it happened!!

With the money on it's way, there are personal care and quilt related items to distribute. I've posted pictures of almost all of the various items that have been made or donated and want to extend a big thank to everyone who shared!! Next week, Stacia, my son's girlfriend, will take several boxes to the Crisis Center in Iowa City that are filled with the tote bags and little "teepee" bags that hold personal care items, plus lots more. The distribution of the quilts will come later in August. Kourtney at the Crisis Center in IC and Mindy at the Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids have given me names of several places collecting items for flood victims.

And here is a little challenge for any of you who are checking into this blog. Let me share my thoughts. As we gathered on Saturday morning to begin sewing, I briefed everyone on what we would be doing and why, talked a bit about the flooding and it's long-term effects. Some of the ladies have sewn with me before and were a part of a project that we did for Southern Valley Alliance for Battered Women. It was a very simple project but a huge gift to the women who used the shelter. I asked each of them to fill a purse with essentials that could go to a woman in need. I recalled watching the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and I was spellbound by the images of people who waded through water and barely escaped with their lives. I remember one young couple walking through waist-high water, holding hands and around her neck was her purse. I thought "what a smart woman she was and how fortunate that she had the foresight to grab her purse." That isn't always the case. I asked my friends to picture what it would be like if they had to leave their home in such a hurry that they couldn't grab their purse. Almost every woman carries half her life in her purse!! So the ladies rose to the challenge and from just a little over a dozen women we collected 43 purses that we donated for Christmas gifts that year. I threw out the same challenge last Saturday morning to all the ladies present (about 24). When we meet in September to sew again, bring a purse and fill it with necessities. The ladies who donated to the women's shelter were so generous with what they put in the purses from nail care to wallets to phone cards to pens and paper, etc. So I challenge you out there, to buy a purse (or two) and fill it with some necessities and then take it to the nearest shelter and donate it to someone who really needs it. It will be appreciated!
This morning I took a few more pics. Here are the tote bags that were made by Joan - the black and white checked ones - and the floral tapestry ones sent by Janet.

And this picture shows the Strawberry Shortcake bags made by mom Angela and her daughter, Allison. They will be filled with colors and coloring books for kids. Barb made the lovely quilted bags that are more like a nice purse than just a tote!

I took pictures of the pillowcases and some other items and will post those later on. I had to mail some letters this afternoon so while I was downtown, I took a picture of City Hall where we held our "Sew and Share" event. That's where we will be on September 19 and 20 - two days next time! More info on that will come in the next couple of weeks.

Henderson, Mn is a river town, too. The Minnesota River is to the east of City Hall. Earlier today, I learned that water has nearly reached City Hall during flood years in the past so Henderson is familiar with flooding. Perhaps it was that knowledge that brought so many together to "Sew and Share" and why so many want to keep doing it. We will be sewing again for Iowa flood victims in September but we will also sew for those in our own "back yard".

A month ago I asked - "How to connect us all so that we can help others? " Well, this blog and the gathering last Saturday shows that we can connect and by sharing just a little bit of our time and talents, we can make a difference!!

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