Work of sending quilts to countries in need never stops

Photo by Ethan Goetz/Journal-ExpressJean Smith and Mayer Susan pose with one of the quilts made that will be shipped to a refugee camp. The quilt pictured was hand made by Smith.

KNOXVILLE — Ladies at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church have been making quilts to send out to help people need for many years.

Mayer Susan, a member of the church, has been making quilts for Lutheran World Relief for more than a decade. Mayer said the church sends out quilts twice a year. And says the work never stops.

“It's ongoing, forever. We never stop," Susan said. "It's not like we start at any particular time.”

Susan has been making quilts for more than 10 years for the church. She said she has made lots of parts of quilts but not so many completed quilts. The quilt makers have an assembly line set up where each quilt maker has a part of the quilt they put together.

“Everybody does an part they either have the skills to do or an interest in,” Susan said.

Susan said the church ships quilts in April and October. Quilts are loaded and taken to Ankeny, Iowa. The quilts are then delivered by semi to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they are bailed, and sent to countries in need.

Since quilts are being sent to other countries, some regulations are in place for the quilts. Susan said it's not so much the material, but what characters and symbols are used to design the quilts.

“We make them so they are not offensive to anybody,” Susan said. “We don't use camouflage, a church [design on the quilts]or flags.”

The church doesn't buy much material to make the quilts Susan said. A lot of the materials needed to make the quilts shows up at the church by church members and people in the community.

Besides making quilts Jean Smith, a member of the congregation, makes baby packages to send out.

Each package contains: two blankets, four diapers, two t-shirts, two gowns, bars of soap, sweaters socks and hats. It's very prescribed. LWR tells us what to send.

When it gets closer to April, church members bring the baby items to Homestead Assisted Living where residents help package the items, then church members tie them in a bundle to get ready for shipping.

“Residents help put the [packages] together,” Smith said. “It helps the residents feel needed. It gives them a sense of global mission to.”

Smith and Susan shared their thoughts on why they have chosen to spend many hours behind the sewing machine to make quilts and baby clothes for the needy.

“I really enjoy doing it. I worked directly with the refugee population in Desmoines through the Desmoines schools, Smith said. I saw the need and heard their story. It was overwhelming.”

“I do it because I want to make the world a better place,” Susan said.

Ethan Goetz can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155. Follow him on Twitter @Ethan_Goetz.

Ethan Goetz is a general assignment reporter for the Knoxville Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155, ext. 19, or via email at Follow him on Twitter @Ethan_Goetz.

Recommended for you