As Hodgenville United Methodist Church filled with visitors, hundreds of brightly colored baby quilts were draped over every available surface last Saturday in anticipation of this year’s Blanket of Praise celebration.
Blanket of Praise is a project of the Elizabethtown District United Methodist Women, through which volunteers make and donate baby quilts to be given to infants in need.
Ken and Virginia Burchett came from Lexington to bless and collect the quilts. According to Virginia Burchett, the program was founded as ABC Quilts in 1988 by Ellen Ahlgren of New Hampshire, a former teacher and grandmother of nine.
“She saw the needs of babies born with HIV/AIDS and started asking friends and family to help with the making of the quilts.” When the national program folded, the Burchetts received permission from Ahlgren to continue the project as ABC Quilts of Kentucky.
“If the children end up going to a foster home from the hospital, this will be the one thing they will always have,” said Diane Lawless, district vice president and a member of Hodgenville United Methodist Church.
“Behind each and every one of these quilts is a story,” Wendy Tyree, president of the Hodgenville United Methodist Women, told the UMW members and others gathered at the Blanket of Praise event.
Altogether 313 quilts were collected. Sunrise Manor Adult Day Care participants contributed seven quilts. The Junior High Youth Ensemble also made and donated a quilt.
“Primarily, of course, they are given to hospitals,” Virginia Burchett said. But quilts are also donated through social workers, pregnancy help centers, and other organizations.
“Your quilts all will be given to some child and they all will bring comfort and love to them,” Virginia Burchett assured the audience. She examines each quilt with a magnet to remove stray pins or needles that might have accidentally been left behind.
While other districts of the United Methodist Women as well as other groups and individuals make and donate quilts, Ken Burchett told the members of the Elizabethtown District, “You produce more quilts for us than any other organization.”
The Elizabethtown District is the only district in Kentucky that has a day set aside every year for collecting and blessing the quilts.
“Other than Katrina, all of the quilts we collect have been distributed in Kentucky,” Ken Burchett said. “We did send some to (victims of Hurricane) Katrina.”