Lorena wrote a letter outlining the project to other colonies, asking for donated homemade items.
The call to my sister Lorena from Dora Maendel at Fairholme Colony came last spring. “I hope you’re wearing your Good Samaritan hat today, because I have a job for you!”
Andrea Firth, the conference co-ordinator with Hospice & Palliative Care Manitoba (HPCM), had asked whether the Hutterian community might donate some items for their annual conference. This was only the third time HPCM hosted the national conference, which attracts hundreds of delegates from across Canada. Since they depend on donations, they wanted a substantial selection of items for people to buy.
“It sounds pretty high level – are you sure I have what it takes?”
“Of course! It’s similar to what you and your sister Shirley did a few years ago, when you raffled off that spectacular homemade quilt to raise funds for the Manitoba Kidney Foundation.”
HPCM trains volunteers to support end-of-life individuals and their families. Initial calls are taken by program co-ordinators, who match a trained bereavement support volunteer with each client. Contact is maintained for about 18 months, depending on client needs. Training and education are provided for volunteers, families and professionals working in palliative care.
My family and I were confi-dent that Hutterites would enjoy participating in such a worthy cause, given their creativity and generosity. As it turned out, we were right.
“If someone is willing to make a quilt,” one mother announced, “I have feathers left from making my children a duvet.”
“I could sew it, but I’ll need someone to mark the squares,” a grandma said. “My knees won’t allow me to crawl around on the floor anymore!”
Through this collaboration a beautiful down duvet and pillow set was completed, along with a vibrant floral cover and pillow shams.
Lorena wrote a letter outlining the project to other colonies, asking for donated homemade items. Soon boxes of crafts started arriving. Hutterites from 13 colonies donated a wide variety
of items such as hand-knit slippers, mittens and socks, large crocheted rugs and elegant doilies. There were sewn items: frilly aprons, soft cushions and adorable baby clothes.
There was even art – intarsia pieces, which are pictures created by cutting wood to different types and thicknesses, sanding, then gluing them together to form animals or flowers.
In early July Ms. Firth and Ms. Joan Lawless drove to Elm River to take the donations to their Winnipeg office. “It was like Christmas when we first opened those boxes of beautiful crafts,” Andrea told us later.
During the three-day Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Conference at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, the organizers had set up an Artisans’ Market in one corner of a huge conference room. My sisters, Shirley, Lorena and I volunteered to help sell the crafts, most of which were donations from Manitoba Hutterites.
“The Hutterite crafts are the highlight of the conference!” said one of the volunteers stopping by our table. “We are so grateful for your kindness and generosity.”
Manning the artisans’ booth for one day was new for us. It felt good to help an organization that provides such essential services to Manitobans. It was exciting to meet and chat with Canadians from every province.
“My daughter is in labour as we speak and I’d like a gift for her!” said one man. “Problem is, I don’t know if I’m buying for a girl or a boy.” I showed him some layette items, but he waffled between two blankets. Finally, he bought both. “The smaller one for right now and the bigger one for later,” he beamed. “Perfect!”
The Hutterite contributions raised more than $2,000 for HPCM at the conference, and items continue to be sold at smaller sales.
“Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Cor. 9:7