Church group putting together quilts to take to tornado victims.
Jacynda Vargas, 12, has been designing quilts for four years, and this year, she sewed all of it together for the very first time.
"If you haven't done it before, the first or the second row is kind of tricky. But by the third one, you sort of get used to it, and by the fourth one, it gets even easier," Jacynda.
She, along with other members of Trinity Lutheran Church, spent Thursday and Friday designing quilts and putting them together for families affected by the Moore, Okla., tornado. They will be hard at work again today on the project.
Leland Jackson, director of youth ministries at the church, is heading to the area on Jan. 1 to help with rebuilding efforts.
"We don't normally meet over Christmas break, but because Leland is going to Moore, we thought this is a perfect opportunity, and it gives the kids something to do and the chance to participate in something really great," said Kathy Jackson, founder of PieceMakers.
Kathy Jackson founded PieceMakers 10 years ago as a way of getting her kids involved in doing something for others, and ever since then, the group has grown to encompass people of all ages who make quilts for others.
"We do this every summer. We just completed our 10th summer. We've made over 500 quilts, and every year, we choose a mission project. So we've done local nursing homes, we've sent them with Lutheran World Relief, we've sent them to the veterans' home in Fort Dodge, we've made them for Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, just a variety of places," Jackson said.
She said that their motto is, "Changing the world, one piece at a time."
Jackson, Darlene Simpson and Mary Jo Schultz are the veteran seamstresses of the group, so they help teach the younger ones all the tricks of the trade.
On Thursday, Simpson was helping guide Jacynda as she sewed the rows of her quilt together. As she was looking for a bobbin for one of the sewing machines, Simpson reminded her that it didn't matter what color the thread was.
"Just get something that's full so we don't have to change it as often," Simpson said, and then laughed.
Jacynda has been involved with PieceMakers since she was 8 years old and could remember the first quilt she ever made.
"It was for a baby, and it was like Strawberry Shortcake with all these other pink and white colors. And this is also a baby blanket, too," she said, referring to the brightly colored quilt that she designed herself.
Jacynda's little sister, 7-year-old Jacya, was getting her first lesson in sewing on Thursday, with help from Jackson.
"She learned very quickly, and she's doing everything we've showed her how to do. She's a smart little girl," Jackson said. "Their grandma lives here in Garden City, Vernita Jones, and she has sewn hundreds of quilts for missions, so it's pretty exciting that Jacya is learning how to sew and that maybe she and Jacynda will follow along in their grandma's footsteps."
Jackson's own daughter, 14-year-old Clara Jackson, has been following in her mother's footsteps, sewing since she was 4 years old.
"When I was 4, I didn't actually sew. I would just lay out the patterns for people," Clara said.
"And she pushed on the pedals (of the sewing machine)," her mother added.
Jackson said that her daughter has an eye for design.
"Clara is excellent at designing. She walked in, and within 10 minutes had this pattern laid out," she said.
Schultz helped Clara out with putting the backing on her quilt.
"I haven't done that since last summer, so I'll need some help," Clara said.
Jackson said that church members and other people from the community donate the material needed for the backing and the fabric squares they use to assemble the quilts. Church members also help by taking the donated fabric and cutting squares out of it.
The goal this time was to make 10 blankets, which Jackson said would be a challenge. But by noon Thursday, the backing was already being sewn on two of the quilts, and Jackson said there would be about 10 other people helping out Friday and today.
"There's a family who wants to join us Friday. They have a boy who sews. He's earning his Eagle Badge, and sewing fits in with that," she said.
The PieceMakers also take their sewing machines to the Juvenile Detention Center every week. The kids at the JDC, who range in age from 10 to 17, are taught how to make baby quilts for such local agencies as the Family Crisis Center and ABC Pregnancy Center.
"Those kids have made 80 quilts," Jackson said.
All of the quilts they make are affixed with a label that says, "Lovingly made by PieceMakers, Trinity Lutheran Church, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4."
"When you send a quilt to a disaster area, I mean it could be passed down for generations, and the story could follow that, you know, 'We received this from some people who cared.' And you never know where it's going to pass along to, so we wanted to put our little tags on it to give it a remembrance," Jackson said.