By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
CONWAY SPRINGS – Quilting can be a cathartic hobby, especially when you know the finished product will provide warmth to someone in need.
The Community Concern quilting group in Conway Springs meets on the second Friday of each month at the Conway Springs United Methodist Church to create quilts that will be donated to people in need. Wichita shelters for abused and trafficked women get regular donations as the recipients keep the blanket they receive. A shelter in Wellington also receives regular donations. Some stay in the community for those in need.
“It’s a bit of warmth to take with them as they start over and begin a new life,” said member Sherry Bender.
Bender and her daughter Dawn Hartman recently took over as directors of the group. Community Concern was founded in the late 1990s by Mickie Alderdice and Maxine Martin. Alderdice died several years ago but the group just recently lost Martin in 2021. Martin continued helping with the group until shortly before her death.
“This is something that you can do and not have to worry about,” said Bender. “It’s relaxing and we enjoy it. It’s our mission.”
The group started as a way to help provide blankets to people in the community who were in need. Bender said she cannot think of a time when a blanket was refused to someone who asked for one, no questions asked.
The group soon found they could produce more blankets than were needed locally and they soon branched out to the donation sites in Wichita and Wellington.
“The places we donate to now are a revolving door,” said Bender. “They always need blankets because the recipients get to keep them.”
Women from multiple communities have joined the group. There are members from Belle Plaine, Viola and Clearwater as well as Conway Springs and Argonia. The group averages around 15 members at any given time, but has seen as many as 25 join in, and as few as 10. In the month of December, the group completed 26 fleece tie blankets to donate to a Wichita Shelter.
The group operates primarily with donations. Bender said word of mouth usually keeps them stocked on fabric. They do purchase batting for completing quilts. Members average 10-20 quilts per month to donate.
The next Community Concern meeting will be held on Friday, Feb. 11 in the fellowship hall at the United Methodist Church at 411 S. 8th Street in Conway Springs. Those interested in joining the group are encouraged to attend. The group meets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and members enjoy a potluck lunch together at the church. Bring a covered dish.