Group stitches together 20 years of charity

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 30, 2018

 Cheryl White makes quilts that her mother Wilme White, background, sews on Aug. 28 at West Bloomfield Spirit of Grace Church.

Cheryl White makes quilts that her mother Wilme White, background, sews on Aug. 28 at West Bloomfield Spirit of Grace Church.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 MaryBeth Tygielski, from Waterford, and Joyce Aird, from West Bloomfield, help put the quilts together.

MaryBeth Tygielski, from Waterford, and Joyce Aird, from West Bloomfield, help put the quilts together.

Photo by Donna Agusti

WEST BLOOMFIELD  — When people hear that a hurricane has wiped out a neighborhood halfway around the world, they might wonder how they could even begin to help. 

Waterford resident Cheryl White doesn’t wonder. Her work already has people covered. 

With a deft hand, White helps make people — locally and around the world — warm when they are most in need, one patch at a time, through the West Bloomfield Spirit of Grace Church Cover Girl Quilters.

About 10 women together make over 100 quilts a year, and since its inception 20 years ago, the group has sent about 200,000 quilts around the world.

“It is therapeutic, but also gives me a peace of mind (that) I am helping somebody who is in need,” White said.

White was recently featured on the Greater West Bloomfield Civic Center TV news magazine show “The Splash” for her volunteerism. She said the group meets 9-11 a.m. on Tuesdays to make their quilts.

“The quilts are sent to Lutheran World Relief, LWR, and then from there they are distributed when there is a disaster,” she said.

White said the group started out at Fenton Lutheran Church, then merged with three other churches.     

“My mom was in the original group,” White said. She said the process of making quilts is all about teamwork.

“The girls stand at a table and cut all of our patches,” White said of the squares that the group has to put together. “And my mom sets up a sewing machine and sews the binding around the quilts,” she said. “The rest of us lay the quilt on the table … pin the border, and we knot it, and it goes over to the sewing machine to be sewed.”

White said that some in the group take patches home and work on them in sections.

She said she has been involved in the group on and off for five years, but she became fully involved three years ago.

White said she never knows where the quilts may end up, but when she watches television and learns of a disaster around the world, she knows her quilts might have been sent there.

“We never know where they end up at,” she said.

White said the group has already made 138 quilts so far this year.

“We’re a little ahead of what we sent off last year,” White said.

She said that due to members passing away over the years, their numbers dipped at one point, but membership has surged back — nimble fingers and sharp minds bringing patches together to make something beautiful.

“We built up our group again; (we’re) always open for new members,” she said.

White said LWR donates all of the group’s materials and sets the quilt patterns, but the local group also makes quilts from donations and from garage sale and rummage sale materials.

Spirit of Grace Church Senior Pastor Mary Duerksen said that the church’s quilting ministry is one that helps extend the church’s mission across the world, via LWR, in a special way.

She said the quilts have all kinds of uses — “in hospitals, in places there are natural disasters.” 

The group makes an impact close to home, too. 

“They will also make special quilts for the church to use to give away at a special church event or a raffle prize for a fundraiser. They have been really creative in ways to (make) the quilting ministry have an impact locally,” Duerksen said.

She said the church prays over the quilts before they are shipped off in the fall. 

“We usually have a special Sunday where we dedicate the quilts that are being shipped off. … We hang them over the pews so we can see them.”

For more information or to find out how to join, go to spiritofgrace.church.