A group of women at Pilgrim's Rest Baptist Church in Heflin have been working diligently to produce quilts for children in need.
The quilts are being donated to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Home (ABCH) in Oxford, where they are distributed to children at the organization's open house in December.
Alabama Baptist Children’s Home
The ABCH is a nonprofit organization that provides care to foster children. The organization has other programs around the state, but the primary purpose of the office in Oxford is to provide campus care.
Campus care provides foster children with long-term care. The ABCH helps enroll them in school and takes them to church. “It’s essentially a foster care model, but in a larger home setting,” said Amber Albright, the area director for ABCH’s Oxford campus.
“The children come from all walks of life and many different situations, so they have their own personal quilt,” said Pilgrims Rest pastor Steve Dempsey.
How they got started
Sara Huddleston has been helping sew the quilts since they started. She said they originally made dresses for a missionary in their community to take to Africa. At one point, a church member passed away and left the women a large amount of fabric. Around that time, the missionary stopped making trips to Africa, leaving the women to find a new use for the material.
“The fabric that was given to us to start with was such beautiful fabric,” Huddleston said.
Huddleston said they found out about the ABCH when another woman from her church brought it to their attention.
When the women first started sewing quilts, they made regular-sized blankets. They eventually switched to making twin-sized quilts to fit the beds the children would be sleeping in at the home.
There were around seven women in the group initially, but a few of the women have since passed away.
According to Dempsey, the women have been using one of the Sunday school rooms in the church to hand-sew the quilts. They come to the church to work on the quilts whenever they can. Dempsey made the women a frame to stretch the quilts when they sew.
Dempsey said people have donated bolts of fabric for the women to make quilts.
“We’ve had several women to contribute material," he said. "I’ve had two ladies recently that called that said their mom had died and had a bunch of material, and they want to give it to me, and I’ve hauled about five pickup truck loads of material over there.”
In 2019, the women at Pilgrims Rest produced around 17 blankets. In 2020, they were able to make approximately 20. Due to the changes that came about during the coronavirus pandemic, they could only produce nine last year.
Albright said the children that come to the campus don’t always have many possessions. “They may just come with the clothes on their back… these quilts are gifted to them, and it's just a way of saying ‘This is yours… when you leave here - whether you’re returning home or moving onto another foster home or an adoptive placement - this is your blanket to have forever.”
According to Albright, those who want to volunteer can look at ABCH’s website and find nearby locations. People can volunteer through their local campus, give monetarily or just offer prayer for children, their biological parents and their foster parents.
“[The kids’] lives are in such turmoil, they need prayer of stability,” said Albright. “The foster parents need prayer for guidance on how to love and provide and nurture these children and, you know, even the birth families need prayer on how they can be restored and be reunited with their children.”
Albright also said people could use the donation lists provided by local campuses to find out how they can help.
This summer, those eager to volunteer can look into the Camp of Champions, where the ABCH provides training to foster parents while the children get to enjoy an experience similar to Vacation Bible School. More information on the Camp of Champions can be found here.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819News.com.