Sometimes God calls us to do big things for him. But most times, it’s the little things that matter most.
Take Elma Voth of Abbotsford, BC and her friend Diane Pohl from Chilliwack, BC, for example. Here are two women—grandmothers even—who didn’t really know how to sew. (If you can imagine that!) But when their children started having babies, they decided it was time they learned.
It all started with their desire to find some nice, soft, double-sided flannelette blankets for their new grandbabies. But although they searched high and low, they could find nothing like the warm, cuddly blankets they remembered from when they were young mothers.
“The best we could find was some thin, flannel thing that looked like a dish rag the first time it was washed,” says Diane with a laugh.
Realizing there was no way they were going to be able to buy such a blanket in a store, the women took matters into their own hands—literally—and decided it was time they learned how to sew their own.
“My husband doesn’t surprise me very often,” says Diane. “But when he heard what I wanted to do, he went out and got me a whiz-bang sewing machine with all the bells and whistles. You know, real idiot-proof.”
The two women started experimenting with different fabrics and designs, and before long, they had started their own little cottage industry.
“Some women get excited shopping for antiques,” says Diane. “We get excited shopping for fabrics!”
Soon the women had made more than enough blankets for their own grandchildren. But they continued sewing, giving blankets away to friends and family and even selling them to a few interested individuals. Diane has even become known as the “blanket fairy” in her church, because every time a baby is born, it is sure to receive one of her blankets. Diane’s handiwork has also traveled as far away as Africa, Ireland, and Germany.
“I love making these things, it’s like an obsession,” she says. “At any given time, I have about fifty of them on hand.”
Not long after Diane and Elma had perfected their product, Elma heard through her sister-in-law that there was a dire need at Evergreen, a ministry of Yonge Street Mission in Toronto, for some baby blankets to be given to new mothers who came in off the street. It turns out many of the mothers were so destitute that they were stealing towels from the hospital where their babies were born, because they had nothing else in which to wrap their babies. Delighted to find such a meaningful outlet for their creative handiwork, the two women immediately set to work sewing even more blankets.
“It gave us something positive to do with the one thing we knew how to sew,” says Diane.
But Elma and Diane didn’t stop there. In addition to each blanket, they also included a sleeper, an undershirt, a toque, and a face cloth—everything a new baby needs to get started in the world. To cap things off, Elma and Diane also prayed over each package, or layette, and inserted a personal note of encouragement for the girls. By the time they were all finished last year, Elma and Diane had sent 75 layettes to Toronto.
This past summer, Elma had the opportunity to visit Evergreen. “It was quite an emotional moment to see the other end of our work there,” Elma says. “They told me that word has now spread on the street that if you’re pregnant and you go to Evergreen, there will be a package there for you.”
While at Evergreen, Elma also noticed that blanket stocks were getting low, so when she got back home, her and Diane were at it again. They now have a new batch ready to send out this fall.
“It’s our little way of making sure these babies are taken care of when they come home from the hospital,” says Elma.
Diane agrees. “We didn’t think what we were doing was a big deal. We love making blankets, and to think that someone can use something we love to make is a thrill to me. I also enjoy the mystery: You send the blankets out there, and you have no idea who will be wrapped up in them.”
Anyone interested in purchasing or sponsoring a blanket or complete layette may contact Diane at 604-824-8669. All proceeds go to the making of new layettes for the Evergreen centre.