More than 440 women create 306 colorful comforters in three days
By Tim Huber
Two vanloads of women drove farther than most to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Comforter Blitz March 6-8, 2017, at Journey Mennonite Church in Yoder, Kansas.
Maria Fehr and 11 others from four Old Colony Mennonite settlements around Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, helped all three days to assemble blankets for MCC distribution or sale. MCC is an inter-Mennonite agency that provides peace, relief and development in the name of Christ.
The Kansas event is in its 11th year and has been joined by similar activities in Indiana and California. This year Shirley Jost of First MB Church in Wichita, Kansas, coordinated the Kansas blitz.
More than 440 women from 75 congregations in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Alberta and Mexico made 306 comforters at the Kansas gathering. Those numbers are up from last year, when 385 people made 287 comforters.
The raw materials of fabric, thread and string sit at one end of a gym, passing through a series of assembling stations operated by women from diverse congregations. Fingers and conversations fly as each blanket nears a final bank of sewing machines for the finishing touch—each completion heralded with the sound of a bell.
Fehr’s Old Colony group drove 19 hours, arriving Sunday night with relatives in southwest Kansas before traveling on together to arrive March 6. Fehr says they came for the fellowship and the opportunity to help others. It’s an activity they do regularly back home as well.
“We send them to the Indians in the hills and send them far away where it’s most needed,” she says.
However, there are differences.
“Here they do new fabric,” she says of items donated by individuals and some stores. “Back home we pull apart old dresses. We come to learn and get better every time.”
Carol Peters, last year’s coordinator, says Fehr’s cohort wouldn’t return to Mexico empty-handed. MCC Central States volunteers regularly assemble “comforter kits” that include everything but the interior batting, skill and time to produce a blanket.
“We said, ‘We can help with that,’” Peters says.
In addition to 75 kits, the women were given six large boxes of comforter tops and bottoms, already matched.
While a handful of comforters were set aside to be auctioned at the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale April 7-8, 2017, in nearby Hutchinson, most of the comforters made at this year’s event will make their way to relief sites around the world.
“They call this a ‘Mennonite’ because of all the colors,” says Jost. She runs her hand along the greens, blues, oranges and yellows of a comforter still in infancy. “The United Nations just issues drab gray or blue, but they’d rather have a ‘Mennonite.’”
Tim Huber is associate editor for Mennonite World Review, an independent ministry serving Mennonites and the global Anabaptist movement. This article is reprinted by permission from the March 27, 2017 issue of MWR.
Photo 1: Hundreds of women from across North America make more than 300 comforters March 8 at Journey Mennonite Church’s Yoder, Kan., location. Photo by Tim Huber/MWR.
Photo 2: Shirley Jost coordinated the 2017 Comforter Blitz. Photo by Kimberlee Jost.