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DECATUR – The pile of knit hats in the middle of a table at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church is a testament to the efforts of the members of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League.

But it's not all about work, either. Conversation is brisk, with several chats going on at the same time on different topics.

“We talk about everything,” said member Debbie Roberts, a retired educator who gave the women the idea to make the hats and give them to students in Decatur schools.

The LWML enjoys assisting Meals on Wheels, the LSA Resale Shop, Northeast Community Fund and translating printed material to Braille. This project, dubbed “Stitches of Love,” has already produced about 70 knitted hats, made on circular looms available in craft stores and departments.

“(Roberts) having recently retired, she's got all the scoop on (the need),” said Annalee Karloski, a member of the group who has created Minions hats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hats and snowman hats, because she likes a challenge. “We're talking about adopting a classroom. There are a lot of children. Every child in the classroom will get a hat.”

The need is great, she said, and they're working with other Lutheran Women's Missionary League chapters in other churches to help make the hats. They also need donations of yarn or cash to buy yarn, and those who want to help can contact the church, (217) 428-0641.

The LWML is the women's auxiliary of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Members dedicate themselves to service projects to serve their community and spread the Gospel, using the talents and gifts they already possess.

The hats project is a “zone project,” which means it includes groups throughout the area, though not all churches have a LWML group. Women can also join as individuals and help out with projects at churches other than their own. Locally, that includes Trinity, Concordia, Mount Calvary and St. Paul's in Decatur. St. John's doesn't have a LWML, she said.

“It will probably expand as we go, including scarves,” Karloski said of the hats project. “I don't know about mittens. I haven't made a mitten yet.”

They're also planning to buy other supplies for their adopted classrooms, such as hand sanitizer, tissues, pencils and the like.

“We started out knitting prayer shawls,” Karloski said. “Then we got these looms. I bought one and once I figured it out, I came to church with it and the girls loved it and it's way better. In the past, we've given hats and scarves to Northeast Community Fund, Webster-Cantrell Hall, to the Cancer Center, New Life Pregnancy Center.”

And so far, students at Harris, Parsons, Durfee and South Shores schools have received hats from the ladies as well.

Principal Jonathan Downing of Parsons sent Roberts photos of students wearing their hats and beaming ear to ear, so she could share the pictures with the women in the group.

The group plans to apply for a grant from Thrivent for Lutherans in hopes of supporting their project.

“We had four totes of scrap yarn, and we've used it all up,” said member Barb Harting.


Staff Writer

Education and family reporter for the Herald & Review.

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