NEW CUMBERLAND - The Point Pleasant Methodist Church women began a crafting class in April of 2010 and haven't been idle since. In addition to creating a variety of crafts the group sells to raise funds for the church, they also have been making sleeping bags and dresses for the less fortunate.
The group includes Sheila Ross, Wanda Champ, Judy Tate, Mick Goffoli, Freda Glass, Judee Everly, Mary Dolan, Lena Derns and Nancy Holdsworth.
The group started as a way for the women of the church to share their crafting knowledge and teach one another, but has evolved into something more. After nearly a year of crafting a variety of items which the group sells during the church's annual spring yard sale to raise funds for the church and distributes as gifts and prizes to area senior and community centers, they switched gears.
LITTLE DRESSES FOR AFRICA — The Point Pleasant Methodist Church’s crafting group, which meets Wednesday mornings, made more than 170 pillow case dresses for Dresses for Africa. Those participating include, from right, front, Sheila Ross, Wanda Champ, Judy Tate and Mick Goffoli, and, back, Freda Glass. The group also includes Judee Everly, Mary Dolan, Lena Derns and Nancy Holdsworth. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
In February 2011, inspired by a news report about the My Brother's Keeper Sleeping Bag Project out of Pennsylvania brought to their attention by Champ, the group began to make sleeping bags for the homeless. The sleeping bags are assembled from everyday bedding and quilts and each side is made with two warm layers with batting in between. When the group called on the congregation to provide them with materials, blankets, comforters and bed linens poured in.
Since they've begun the project, the group has made more than 70 sleeping bags of all sizes - from children's to extra-large - and have donated them to a variety of groups, including the American Red Cross, New Cumberland Food Closet, Weirton Christian Center and Wheeling's House of the Carpenter. The crafting group also has donated sleeping bags to individuals and families in need who have come to their attending.
In addition to the sleeping bag, the group often tucks personnel hygiene items and small Bibles or devotionals into the bag as well. The group also knitted and crocheted hats and scarves for distribution through the New Cumberland Food Closet.
From May through October, the group has been working on a new project - making 171 pillow case dresses in sizes ranging from small to extra-large for distribution through the Little Dresses for Africa project, brought to the group's attention by Glass. Once again, the congregation answered the call for pillow cases, which the group transformed into scores of colorful dresses.
"The Ohio Valley is full of generous people," said Ross.
On Jan. 12, the church congregation and the Rev. Michael Rowe blessed the dresses in preparation for their being packed and shipped to the distribution center, with each member of the congregation personally blessing at least one dress.
Little Dresses for Africa also distributes dresses to communities that have experienced natural disasters or other crises and in South Dakota and Appalachia in the U.S.
The group will resume their activities in mid-February, meeting from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday. They once again will be working on sleeping bags for the homeless and welcome women of any skill level to attend their meetings, share their own crafting knowledge, learn and assist with community service projects.
"It keeps your hands busy when you're in front of the TV," said Glass.
In addition to these community outreach projects, the church raises money for area charitable groups each December through their memorial Christmas tree project, initiated by Bill Glass in memory of his daughter. Over the past nine years, nearly $19,000 has been raised for local charities, including more than $3,000 this past year. One-half of the funds went to the New Cumberland Food Closet and one-half to the New Manchester-New Cumberland Ministerial Association, which provides assistance to residents in crisis.
"It keeps growing," said Freda Glass, his wife. "The first year, it was $600, but we keep getting more and more - from church members, people in the community and from all over, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. The church supports it 100 percent."
The food closet provided food to 115 local families, or 552 people, last year. It is located at the New Cumberland Presbyterian Church and is supported by local churches and community organizations. Needs include cereals, pasta and cleaning products.
Point Pleasant Methodist Church is located on Wylie Ridge Road. For information on the church or the crafting group's projects, call (304) 564-3920.