guest post by Barb Boose, editor of DMU Magazine
When 14 DMU students, two faculty, two alumni and four others took a medical service trip to El Salvador in March, they took 30 quilts with them, thanks to the Crafting for Charity Club.
The club was organized last year by DMU employees, all enthusiastic crafters wanting to use their skills to benefit others. Their first project was working with Mercy Hospice in nearby Johnston, Iowa, to help bereaved family members create small scrapbooks about their loved ones. Knowing a DMU group was going to El Salvador, club members asked the University’s Global Health Department whether they would be interested in taking the quilts to local residents.
“They were eager to have them,” says Lana Jackson, the club’s informal chair and the academic secretary for the Osteopathic Manual Medicine Department and College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We were looking to do something to help people – and the whipped cream on top is we get to do it while gabbing with friends.”
Many others rallied to support the effort. The club collected donations of fabric, thread and other materials, including two huge boxes of upholstery fabric from a local shop. A local church’s weekly quilting group produced baby blankets and large quilts, and a professional quilter volunteered to assemble a special quilt to be put up for auction, tentatively this spring; the proceeds will benefit DMU’s Global Health Program. When club members held “quilt-ins” for the project, other DMU employees, students and local residents joined them.
“There are so many talented people in our community. I want to bring them together to help those in need,” says Lynn Mogle, the club’s vice chair and coordinator of DMU’s information technology services help desk.
That effort appears to be working. The Crafting for Charity Club continues to meet the third Tuesday of every month, 5:30-7:30 p.m., on the 10th floor of the DMU Clinic; the sessions are open to all who enjoy or want to learn crafting – no previous skills are required – and who want to help others. Club leaders are contemplating future projects; with their still-ample supply of quilting materials, they may continue that project, perhaps to help homeless people in Des Moines.
In addition to benefiting those in need, the Crafting for Charity Club offers a personal reward to participants. “It’s the fellowship,” says club member Carolyn Beverly, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine. “It’s a great way to get to know my coworkers.”