Sometime in the 1970s Lutheran World Relief proposed to the women of the ELCA that they make quilts for those in need around the world. Around 1972, a team of ladies from St. John's Lutheran Church in Madison was formed to take up this mission. They became known as the Blanket Workshop. Peg Kilgust and Marion Schwengel first began by helping the team create school uniforms for Africa. They purchased two sewing machines and not long after heard about the ELCA mission called Project Comfort. In the early years they often averaged around 100 quilts per year.
Fabric such as lightweight drapes and sheets are used to make 21-inch squares. The squares are sewn into a 60x80 size quilt. Often the team searches at Goodwill, St. Vinnie's, estate sales, or fabric stores for fabrics they can use.
Blanket Workshop meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday from 9-11. Later we added on the 5th Wednesday of each month. You don’t need sewing experience to join the group.
The quilts are mainly used to shield against the cold and rain, but also were made into tents or floor coverings. Many make their way to Africa but also places where natural disasters occur. The Blanket Workshop currently creates about 50-60 quilts each year. We recently hit the 5000 mark since the team originated. We have decided to keep number 5000 and display it each year in honor of all the women who have helped with this mission for many years.
Besides quilts we have also made Baby Care Kits and School Kits. The Baby Care Kits welcome both the mother and baby by providing warmth and comfort and contain such things as cloth diapers, receiving blankets, sleepers, and socks.
The School Kits include 70-sheet notebooks, #2 pencils, crayons, rulers, and black or bell ballpoint pens. Education is important in every community, especially those in poverty or who recently suffered a disaster.
If you wish to donate to this mission of comfort around the world please see a member of the committee or send a donation to St. John’s. You can join in helping countless others across the world through this ministry.