Quilting for a Purpose

Woman’s Handiwork to Aid Church’s Mission Efforts

Photos by Linda Comins Mary Caldwell, left, of Wheeling and the Rev. Jennifer J. Otto, pastor of Elm Grove United Methodist Church, examine a hand-stitched quilt that Caldwell made and donated to the church to raise funds for mission outreach projects.

WHEELING — One woman’s artistry is designed now to help people in need locally and internationally.

Mary Caldwell, a Wheeling resident and veteran quilter, has donated one of her beautiful hand-stitched quilts to her home congregation, Elm Grove United Methodist Church, as a prize for a special drawing. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the church’s mission outreach programs.

Tickets are available for a specified donation from Carolyn Stoflinsky and Susie Whitecotton or by calling the church office, 304-242-1206. The drawing for the quilt will be held at the church, located at 125 Kruger St., on Nov. 24.

Caldwell, a soft-spoken, unassuming person, offers a simple explanation of how this project came to fruition.

“I just did it (made the quilt) and brought it down one day and asked if they’d like to have it, and they did,” she said.

Church leaders are thrilled by the quilt maker’s generosity and impressed with the beauty of the finished coverlet.

The Rev. Jennifer J. Otto, pastor of Elm Grove United Methodist, commented, “God gives us so many gifts. Mary has brought her talent so that we may be able to expand our mission work for the kingdom of God.”

Otto, who is starting her third year of service at the church, remarked, “I am so proud of her (Caldwell). She is awesome and humble and gentle.”

Caldwell said she spent “three to four months in my spare time” to make this particular quilt. In 40 years of quilting, she estimates she has made 50 to 60 quilts over the years. She has given quilts to family members and other people.

The handmade quilt features the Dresden Plate pattern. “I have one (in this pattern) on my bed that I made. I only kept the one,” Caldwell said.

Stoflinsky said the church’s mission outreach efforts include support for the House of the Carpenter on Wheeling Island and help given to a group in Guatemala.

Peggy Laing, a member of the mission outreach committee, said the church organizes monthly collections for various charitable organizations. For instance, church members are donating paper towels and toilet paper for the House of the Carpenter this month.

The church also has given support to Youth Services System and to the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops that meet in their building. “We made sure every boy could go to Boy Scout camp this year,” Laing said.

Elm Grove United Methodist Church holds a community dinner on the third Saturday of each month. “It’s a full meal and totally free of charge,” she added.

Initially, the monthly dinners attracted more than 100 area residents. With the program now entering its ninth year, a steady group of 50-55 people attend, she said.

“People are not coming for food, but are coming for companionship,” Laing related. “They can sit at a table and have a conversation instead of eating alone.”

In terms of international mission work, Laing is part of a group that will depart on July 2 for a mission trip to Guatemala. It will be the group’s 18th trip to that nation and the fourth year it has visited one particular village.

This village is located in “a very remote, government-neglected area,” she said. Villagers don’t have houses so they place pieces of leftover plywood and sheet metal between trees to provide rustic shelter from the elements.

Four years ago, the Guatemalan government started to construct a community center in the village, but never finished the project, Laing said.

When mission volunteers attempted to rectify the situation, they learned that the footers were not strong enough to support a roof for the center. So, that year, the volunteers strengthened eight footers to double the load-bearing weight on the building’s north side. Last year, the mission group completed similar work on eight footers for the center’s south side.

“This year, we can put a roof on the building,” Laing said.


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