Delivering comfort, one stitch at a time

DOVER — Glenda Case knows firsthand the spiritual comfort that the warmth of a shawl or a blanket can provide.

She remembers the morning her mother passed away in a hospital near Greensboro, North Carolina, and when her mom’s nurse brought in a shawl and laid it across her mom in a time of need and said a prayer.

“It was just very, very meaningful and touching to me,” Ms. Case said. “Then after (my mother) passed that day I just took the shawl with me and took it home and placed it on my blanket stand.

“Now, I just think of her constantly when I see it.”

That experience moved Ms. Case so much that she founded the First Baptist Church of Dover Comfort Shawls group last June with five members. It has now grown to 13 members, including one man.

Glenda Case founded First Baptist Church of Dover’s Comfort Shawls group following an experience she had when her mother passes away. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

The group makes handmade shawls and blankets and delivers them to staff at Bayhealth Kent General Hospital in Dover to give to cancer patients and others, as well as friends and church members.

They meet once a month at First Baptist Church of Dover at 301 Walker Road, mostly to provide each other with some camaraderie and friendly discussion.

The group, whose members range in age from 60- to 92-years-old, has been able to exceed Ms. Case’s expectations when it comes to creating the various fleece, knit and crocheted shawls.

Rev. Daniel L. Taylor, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dover, chats with members of the Comfort Shawls group at their monthly meeting on Monday afternoon.

“We have a cancer patient in our group and she said that when she gets chemo, her and the cancer patients who get chemotherapy treatments are always cold and they want a blanket,” she said.

“So that’s how we got the idea to check with the hospital and see if there was a need.”

There definitely was.

Since June, they have delivered more than 100 of their handmade shawls to patients at Kent General which are theirs to keep.

One member’s personal battle

Debbie Beaver, of Dover, is that cancer patient who made the suggestion for the group to call the hospital’s oncology department. She has been fighting breast cancer for 14 years and it has recently spread into her spine and legs.

She has been a proud member of the group almost since its inception and is currently working on a blanket for a man with a “heavy, interesting stitch” that a man would enjoy.

These are just some of the homemade shawls and blankets that have been handcrafted by First Baptist Church of Dover’s Comfort Shawls group.

Ms. Beaver said most of the shawls and blankets seem to be designed for women, so she’s trying to change that a little.

“Just making them for people is the best part,” Ms. Beaver said. “I haven’t actually needed one yet, but I figure if I ask for one someone will certainly give me one.

“We work on the shawls and blankets at home a lot but we meet once a month for fun and encouragement, plus this is a lot of our social lives. I love this. I think this is an amazing idea.”

More than just shawls

The cozy shawl comforters are more than just warmth providers, according to Ms. Case.

“We do a lot of these at (Kent General) hospital and the others we deliver to friends and church members and people that need a warm hug and need to be comforted, that’s really what they’re for,” she said.

Ms. Case said that each shawl or blanket has a tag attached that says, “Made for you with hope, love and prayer. Hope that you are feeling better.
Made by hand. Prayers that you will be comforted by the Lord’s presence – The Ladies of the First Baptist Church.”

This tag, signed by the items’ maker, is attached to each of the donated shawls and blankets.

She said that then whoever made the shawl signs the tag and it has laundry instructions on the back.

They also include a “prayer cloth” that they slip into the pocket of the shawls.

“It’s just a reminder of God’s love and healing powers and if they want to they can hold it in their hand, keep it in their pocket … they can do whatever they want to with it,” she said.

The First Baptist Church of Dover Comfort Shawls group usually delivers around 20 shawls and blankets to the hospital at a time and they’re gone in about a week.

Ms. Case said members of the group don’t interact with the patients — well, at least directly. She said that church members prayer over each of the shawls and blankets before they are delivered.

The pastor gives his blessings

Rev. Daniel L. Taylor, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dover, said the Comfort Shawls group is leading by example.

“One of the things out of scripture and even out of our American Baptist backgrounds, we’ve been talking about how can we be the hands and feet of Christ?,” Rev. Taylor said.

“The best way that they have discovered they can do that — they can’t go do long walks or demonstrations or whatever — but they can sit and they can be together and do this in their own home.”

Rev. Taylor said they are answering the call for what the Bible actually says people should be doing.

“In scripture in Matthew 25, Jesus is telling the people, ‘When was it you’ve visited me?,’ and ‘When was it you’ve given me a drink when I was thirsty?,’” he said.

“(The Comfort Shawls) is all a piece of that that we’re calling to what Jesus has asked people to do, and I think that’s what it’s all about.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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