The quilting group at Faith Lutheran Church has made 23,865 quilts since 1979. Gladys Hansen, pictured second from the left, has led the group since 1979.

38 Years and 30 Miles of Quilts

Gladys Hansen has been the quilting coordinator at Faith Lutheran Church in Valders, Wisconsin, since 1979. ­

Thirty-eight years and 23,865 quilts later, she and her group of nine other quilters are still creating hundreds of the covers annually, all for Lutheran World Relief to deliver to our brothers and sisters in need around the world. Laid end to end, their handiwork would span 30 miles! ­

The group is 10-women strong and they meet on ­ Thursdays from January through November. Her oldest quilter turned 90 earlier this year. Gladys is 87. “We’re an ecumenical group,” she said, explaining they include one Presbyterian, one Roman Catholic and one nonchurch member, along with seven members of Faith.

In 2017, the rail car loaded with their shipment pulled out October 24 carrying 515 quilts! Gladys says she expects they will be just as productive — if not more so — in 2018 because they already have a stack of unfinished quilts ready to be completed.

“We hold them for next year,” she said. “We have quite a pile waiting there.”

While the production team is an enthusiastic group of only 10 women, the supply chain is a wide-ranging, community-wide venture with many people from the congregation and throughout the area donating materials.

People tend to be generous when they find out the purpose of the quilts. Gladys believes another simple thing helps: she sends thank you notes to everyone who donates materials, signed by the whole group. “That’s one of the smartest things I did, writing thank you notes. People like being thanked.”

And the work is truly a ministry. “We are providing comfort to people we’ve never seen and people we’re never going to see but we know they are God’s creations and he wants those people to have a warm quilt too,” Gladys said. “We don’t need to know them. God created them. ­That’s enough. We don’t care where they live. If a quilt is going to make them more comfortable, that’s why we do it.”