COLUMBIA, Md.—South Columbia Baptist Church hosted over 30 men who were homeless during Valentine’s week and presented each one with their own personal homemade, handmade quilt.
Each year in February the church participates in Winter Haven, a rotating homeless shelter in Howard County supported by 18 houses of faith from December through April. Every day they transport their guests from Elizabeth House in Laurel to their church for a hot meal, a place to sleep, and friendship.
Terry Rudd, minister of education and outreach, said the whole church is involved in the ministry.
“It’s always great to see our members as they volunteer their time, ministering to the men, making meals and spending the night. One evening our children sang for them and it was amazing.” Rudd said the men were very responsive and especially touched to hear the children.
Ladies in the church’s “Blankets of Love” group gear up every other year to make the guests quilts. KarenSue Dean, who leads the group with co-chairman Danita Kinnison, began Blankets of Love after Dean’s grandmother died.
“She was a quilter and was gifted with a lot of her fabric. I didn’t know what to do with it,” Dean said, but she met with other quilters and they began a sewing group to bless folks who were ill or going through difficult times.
They regularly contribute blankets for children to Mercy Ships. The church has been very supportive. Members provide plenty of fabric. Dean chuckled and said the fabric closet is overflowing.
“It’s like we have rabbits in there, it just keeps multiplying!” Dean said, noting the Winter Haven project was a perfect opportunity to minister through the quilts.
“We thought, what a great way to really put into action our caring and love for other people and to let these guys know we’re really praying for them,” she said.
They sew through the year, but the group really ramps up when the shelter time gets close, swelling to over 25 participants. “it’s a great multi-generational group, Dean said, explaining they have kids in elementary school and seniors into their 80’s.
“We typically give the men their blankets on Valentine’s Day because they generally stay with us that week. We tell them, ‘We’ve been praying for you and wanted to give you something, and we want you to know we love you and want to take care of you.’”
Dean said many of the men are quiet and closed off, but this present usually makes an impact on them. “Some really light up. It brings them out of their shell. You give them that quilt and you see a smile start on their face.” Dean said they really like the blankets because they can take them with them as they travel from one church to another through the winter.