Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions about LWR's Quilt & Kit Ministry
Where do we send Quilts and Kits for LWR?
LWR has two warehouses that receive, process, store and ship material resources year-round. Their addresses are:
Lutheran World Relief
398 E. Richmond Street
South St. Paul, MN 55075
Lutheran World Relief
601 Main Street
New Windsor, MD 21776
If you are bringing the items to the warehouse, we recommend you call the warehouse for verification of hours before making a delivery.Please include your name or name of church, address and contents (big and clear letters) on the outside of the box.
Depending on your location, you may be near an Ingathering (local collection) site. Ingatherings take place around the country and are organized by local volunteers. You can check our Ingathering map and enter your zip code to find the closest site.
Is there an inexpensive way to ship Quilts and Kits to the LWR warehouse?
Yes! Around the U.S., dedicated volunteers organize what we call an Ingathering, which is an opportunity for several groups from a region to drop off Quilt and Kit donations to be delivered together. Volunteer coordinators (Key Leaders) generally arrange for a truck, which is filled with donations and driven to the nearest LWR warehouse. Contributions to help cover the cost of the truck vary from site to site, so check with your local Key Leader to get the details. Find an ingathering near you on our new, interactive ingathering map and contact the Key Leader listed for more details.
When is the next LWR ingathering in my area?
Go to ingatherings.lwr.org to search for a local ingathering (a drop off site for local churches to take Quilts and Kits). The map is updated as we receive information from the local volunteers, we call Key Leaders, who organize Ingatherings. Information from the previous year will be left on the map for reference until current information is provided by Key Leaders. In general, Ingatherings take place around the same time and in the same locations year to year.
May we insert religious symbols and tracts with our gifts?
We ask that you do not include any religious symbols or messages with your congregation’s name. LWR provides Quilts and Kits based on need, regardless of religious creed. In some situations including religious symbol or messages will jeopardize the delivery to people who most need the items.
Can we use plastic bags for LWR Kits?
Please do not package any of the Kits or their contents in plastic bags. Plastic bags tend to trap air inside of them, thereby causing the bags to take up more space in the shipping cartons, making it difficult to pack consistent quantities of Kits in the boxes. Also, in many of the countries where we distribute Kits, there is no infrastructure for garbage disposal, and discarded plastic becomes hazardous to the people, animals and environment.
Does LWR collect blankets?
Quilts are highly preferred for their handmade quality and warmth, but we do accept new and like-new (no stains or tears) blankets measuring approximately 60” X 80”. We do not accept electric blankets or afghans. Blankets should be packed separately from Quilts when sending them to LWR.
How does LWR determine where Quilts and Kits go?
LWR has partners around the world who are on the ground working closely with people in the projects we support. Those partners send us requests for Quilts and Kits when they see a particularly great need or opportunity for the items to make a real difference.
LWR weighs those requests against our supply at the time and we send the Quilts and Kits where they are most needed. We also reserve a certain number in our warehouses for emergency relief efforts so that we are able to respond immediately to an event such as an earthquake. See where LWR Quilts and Kits went in 2013.
How do you make sure our Quilts and Kits get to people who need them?
LWR works only with experienced, reputable agencies that can manage large volumes of humanitarian aid items. All partner agencies must sign an agreement with LWR stating they will follow their stated distribution plan, and will seek approval from LWR in writing if any changes are necessary. The agreement also requires all partners to adhere to established international humanitarian guidelines (such as the Red Cross Code of Conduct), as well as local, national and U.S. law.
Agencies requesting aid make all the necessary arrangements for reception of the items: customs clearance without any import taxes; unloading and transporting materials; safely storing the materials; and distributing them to the appropriate communities.
As soon as materials arrive, LWR receives a report that details whether any items were missing or damaged. Once distribution is complete, partners submit End Use Reports, often with stories and photographs. Partners are not eligible to receive further materials until an acceptable End Use Report is filed with LWR.
Finally, several times each year, LWR staff visit partner agencies. Each visit includes a review of distribution records, a visit to the partner’s warehouse and travel to communities who received the Kits or Quilts. The purpose of these visits is to determine whether the partners follow LWR guidelines, and ensure the materials were necessary and useful to recipients.
How long do LWR Quilts and Kits sit in the warehouse before they are sent overseas?
Depending on current need, nearly all LWR materials are shipped within six months. Often, materials are shipped almost as soon as they are processed. On average, materials spend 4-6 weeks being transported by ocean freight before reaching LWR’s partner agencies.
Our Quilt and Kit Pipeline Poster has a useful visual representation and description of the quilts and kits pipeline.
How much money does LWR spend on shipping Quilts and Kits?
Each year LWR spends nearly $1.7 million to operate its Quilt & Kit Ministry. Those funds, combined with the generosity of quilters and kit-makers throughout the United States, enable LWR to distribute more than $14 million worth of Quilts and Kits annually. Contributions to LWR’s Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund, and bricks sponsored on the Good Samaritan Quilt Plaza at LWR’s headquarters help cover this cost.
What is the Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund? Does our group have to contribute to this fund when we contribute our Quilts and Kits?
The Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund goes toward the costs associated with shipping Quilts and Kits overseas (this fund was previously named the Project Comfort Fund). We know that quilters and kit-makers put a lot of time, energy and resources into making Quilts and Kits. Rather than the quilters and kit-makers contributing to the fund, encourage those in the congregation who may not be able to participate in this ministry in a hands-on way to support it through contributions to the Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund.
Why did the guidelines for LWR Quilts and Kits change?
In 2010, Lutheran World Relief conducted an in-depth evaluation of our Quilt & Kit Ministry. We interviewed more than 450 Quilt and Kit recipients, 21 overseas partner organizations and more than 1,000 of our dedicated quilters and kit-makers throughout the U.S. We’re pleased to report that, overall, our Quilts and Kits are effective and that with a few small tweaks they can do an even better job meeting people’s needs. The new Quilt & Kit Ministry Guide 2014-15 provides the most current information.
How can I get more people in my congregation involved in LWR Quilts & Kits?
Consider including information about the Quilt & Kit Ministry in your bulletin or church newsletter. Lead an adult forum during the Sunday school hour—share the new Quilt & Kit Ministry Guide 2014-15 and copies of the Faith in Action newsletters. Organize an intergenerational quilting or kit-making event to introduce the ministry to your congregation. Others can also take part by generously supporting the Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund.
Some people in my congregation want to help make Quilts or Kits, but their schedules don’t allow them to attend our quilting or kit-making sessions. How else can they be involved?
Consider putting together “quilt top kits” with squares cut to size and instructions for piecing a top together. Bundle the kits together and make them available to those in the congregation who may be interested in taking the tops home to complete.
You can also provide shopping lists for the items you need to complete Kits and include them in Sunday bulletins for members to take home. They can collect the supplies during the week and bring them to church on Sunday. Set a project timeline and make a basket available in the narthex or during the offering each week to collect the donated supplies.
Ask your congregation to “sponsor” Quilts and Kits by covering the associated shipping costs. When displaying your Quilts and Kits during your Quilt & Kit Dedication Sunday, pin an envelope to each one and invite members to choose which ones they would like to “sponsor” by inserting the designated Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund amount into the attached envelope. Before sending your Quilts and Kits to LWR, remove the envelopes, compile the funds and send a check to LWR for the Quilt & Kit Shipping Fund.
Where can we find backpack-style bags to purchase for School Kits?
This style is often used in the U.S. for youth to carry athletic equipment. Try your local sporting goods store or search online using the keywords, “buy drawstring backpacks.” Before purchasing, make sure they meet the new size requirements (14" x17") and General Assembly Instructions. We also have a list of suppliers who have appropriate bags available for purchase in bulk.
Personal Care Kits
Bath-size towels are expensive. How can we afford to make as many Personal Care Kits as we used to?
Be sure to shop for light- or medium-weight towels, which are easier for Kit recipients to hand wash and air dry, take up less storage space and are considerably less expensive than the fluffier towels we may prefer to use. In our cost analysis, we found lighter-weight bath-size towels cost about the same as a washcloth and hand towel combined. Check your local dollar stores or warehouse clubs for affordable options.
Bath towels vary in size. The 52" X 27" size listed in the guidelines is the maximum size. 20" x 40" is a good guideline for a minimum size. Smaller bath towels are acceptable as long as they are not hand towels.
Do the nail clippers have to have files attached?
Clippers with or without files are acceptable.
Baby Care Kits
What is the importance of the no stains policy on any of the used items in the Baby Care Kits?
As a part of the LWR value of accompaniment, we strive to ensure every person who receives an LWR Quilt or Kit is treated with equity, dignity and respect. When people have lost so much, receiving an item that appears cast-off can add to their suffering. Also, used clothing is increasingly difficult to get through customs in many countries. Even one item that looks worn or stained to local officials can jeopardize the status of a whole shipment.
Do you have any tips for Footless Sleepers?
- Trim the feet off footed sleepers and the bottom portion off Onesies, and finish the raw edges with a hem or serger.
- Replace the sleepers with a shirt and pair of pants.
- Replace the sleepers with gowns.
Can you clarify the requirements for fabric?
The fabric pieces don’t need to be the same color, pattern or size, as long as they each fit one of the three size options in the guidelines. Each spool of thread should match one of the fabric pieces included. Neutral thread is also a good option.
Quilt & Kit Tracker
Are we required to use the Quilt & Kit Tracker?
Use of the Tracker is not required in order to make a donation of Quilts or Kits to LWR. Of course, we would love for you to use it! The question "Where do our Quilts and Kits go?" is the question we get asked the most often, so we developed this system to help answer that question!
How do we use the Quilt & Kit Tracker?
We’ve developed a Quilt & Kit Tracker How To Guide, which you can download and print. We also have a video tutorial that walks you through the process step by step.
How long does it take for Quilts & Kits to appear in the Tracker?
Your items won’t appear in the Tracker until they are scanned at the warehouses in Minnesota or Maryland, which may take up to six months after arrival. With our Ingatherings, fall and spring are especially busy times at the warehouses. We receive about 50% of all donations for the year between October and November, and another 40% between March and May, so please be extra patient during these times!
To learn more about all the steps between the time Quilts and Kits leave your hands to the time they reach recipients’ hands, you can check out the Quilt & Kit Pipeline at lwr.org/tracker. You can also request a free poster that shows the timeline to help explain the timeframe to your group.
How long does it take for Quilts & Kits to be shipped around the world?
Quilts and Kits are shipped overseas in the order they arrive and this part of the process can take six to nine months. This is a result of many factors, from working with our partners to determine the best shipping time, to keeping the warehouse well-stocked to ensure speedy and efficient response to a crisis or emergency. To learn more about the Quilt & Kit Pipeline, go to lwr.org/tracker. You can also request a free poster that shows the timeline to help explain the timeframe to your group.
Why is there a discrepancy in the totals that we counted and what shows in the Tracker/on our receipt?
If the donation was made in the last few months, it's likely that the boxes were separated at the warehouse, and you will soon see the balance of the donated items show up on the Tracker or a second receipt.
If the donation was made more than six months ago, there are a few possibilities. The scans are based entirely on the numbers you entered when you created the labels. The following possibilities may be the cause of the incorrect numbers:
- An error was made in the total accounted for on their bar codes during the creation of the labels. We've received labels where the quantity is scratched out and a new number was written in with a pen or marker. The scanner can't read that handwritten number, and only the original number that is included in the barcode gets entered into the system.
- If the label was cut incorrectly (splitting the delivery and processing scans side to side, instead of splitting the identical labels top to bottom), the scanner will not be able to accurately read the processing scan portion of the label, and nothing will appear in your donation record.
- If you accidentally mistyped your donor ID when creating the label, the system is not able to give an error message to let you know. If an incorrect ID was used to create the label, then your items will not be attributed to your group, and won't show up in the system under your ID. Please proofread carefully before finalizing and printing your labels.
- If you printed directly from the screen rather than following the steps to print your labels, the final printout may cut off important parts of the label, which the scanner will then not be able to read.
- One or more of your labels may have been damaged or destroyed and could not be scanned. This is one reason we ask for one label inside and one label outside each box. You can help ensure that the label inside isn't damaged by not packing it right under the seam where the box closes (otherwise a box cutter may cut the label).
- The quality of the printing on the label may also prevent the scanner from correctly reading the barcode. If your printer was running out of ink and the print out was spotty, that may prevent the scanner from reading the label. If you reused one label and made multiple copies and the copier quality was poor, that may also prevent the scanner from reading the label.
- A label was somehow missed or didn't scan correctly at the warehouse.
Why can't I find our church in the Tracker system?
It's possible that your congregation's information wasn't imported into the system initially. This is an easy fix! All you need to do is call LWR at 800.597.5972, and we will add you to the system. This might take a couple of days, so it's always a good idea to work on your labels well ahead of your Ingathering or drop-off date to ensure a smooth process.
Can we use the same label on every box?
This can be a great time-saver — if the contents of your boxes are exactly the same. For example, if you are preparing boxes of 5 Quilts each, or 10 Personal Care Kits each, you may create one bar code label with that information and print multiple copies or make copies of the same label to use. If anything in the box changes — either quality or contents — the label must be changed to match, or totals reported in the system will not be accurate. It is very important that the quality of the copies be very good. If you use a copier and the toner is getting low or it makes a grainy copy, the scanner may not be able to read your barcodes.
It's also important to note that the scanners can only read what you initially enter into the system, so the scanners will not read any hand-written changes or additions to the labels.
Will all of our Quilts or Kits ship out at the same time?
Not necessarily. If you’ve sent more than one type of Kit and/or Quilts, they are likely to ship out at different times and to different countries because our partners generally request one or two items at a time and our stock of each item varies. Don’t worry if you only see that part of your donation has shipped; the other items are likely to ship shortly.
Can we request that our Quilts & Kits go to specific countries?
We do not accept requests for your donations to go to specific countries. We work with our partners overseas to determine where and what items are most needed.
Can we find out where our Quilts & Kits went within a country?
The Quilt & Kit Tracker only reports the date Quilts & Kits leave the U.S. and the destination country. Our overseas partners do not have the technology to use bar code scanners. Once a shipment arrives in the destination country, LWR receives an arrival receipt. Items in a single shipment may be divided and go to many different communities in a given country. After the distribution is completed, we receive a final report from our partner with the distribution dates, distribution location, description of recipients and how the Quilts and Kits impact the community/recipients.
Some additional information is available through our Quilt & Kit Distribution Map. The map shows when a shipment has left the U.S., arrived in the destination country, and when the distribution is complete, it will include stories and photos as they become available from LWR’s partners.
Will we receive e-mail alerts when our Quilts & Kits are scanned at the warehouse and/or shipped?
Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to send email alerts through the Quilt & Kit Tracker. Once a month, receipts are run from the Tracker and mailed to the address associated with the donor ID numbers in the system. Once loaded onto a container for shipment overseas, another letter will go in the mail to report the destination. You can also check the Tracker periodically to find out if your items have been scanned and/or shipped.
Can we include any personal or religious messages in the boxes?
We ask that you do not include any religious symbols or messages with your congregation’s name. LWR provides Quilts and Kits based on need, regardless of religious creed. In some situations, religious symbols or messages will jeopardize the delivery to people who most need the items.