Church provides warmth via Prayer Shawl Group

Photos and text by Anita Peltonen

I have always wondered why so many cars are parked at the Cold Spring United Methodist Church at midday on Thursdays. So one afternoon I stepped inside.

The busy scene in the cavernous community room included women unspooling yarn, unfurling blankets, and comparing progress on the shawls and coverlets. Between 20 and 30 volunteers (not all Methodists) typically show up, in part, some admit, for the company. But their united goal is to make throws and blankets for soldiers, veterans, patients, newborns and refugees.

By the Numbers

Number of shawls and blankets distributed in 2016 to those who are sick or “going through a hard time”: 64; to nursing homes: 93; to ministries for children: 32; to military families: 1,007 prayer patches, eight shawls and 34 dish cloths; to cancer infusion centers: 350 prayer shawls; to veterans’ hospitals: 35 fleece blankets.

A clear plastic bin filled with shawls and “prayer-patches” sat at the far end of the room awaiting a blessing by Pastor Jessica Anschutz before going out the door. The patches — crocheted rectangles about the size of a cellphone — are designed to be held for comfort, or while praying.

Beverley Lyons Hotaling, who leads the creative sessions, said the group has distributed blankets as far as Kuwait (to U.S. soldiers) and as close as the Veterans Affairs hospital at Castle Point, north of Beacon. She showed off a newly donated set of cabinets that were already overflowing.

For more information, email [email protected]. Another group, called Coffee, Kids and Chaos, meets at the church on Tuesdays.

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