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Bringing warmth one stitch at a time

Marylou Wahl (left) and Kathy Riedel (right) hold quilts made by members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church Quilting Friends. The group of 24 women will send out close to 100 quilts to those in need before the end of the year.

Marylou Wahl (left) and Kathy Riedel (right) hold quilts made by members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church Quilting Friends. The group of 24 women will send out close to 100 quilts to those in need before the end of the year.

Piles of quilts are stacked up on a table in a room of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where a dedicated group is working to keep people warm this winter.

What started roughly 20 years ago as a modest group that made quilts for sale at the church has grown into a group of 24 women who produce between 200 and 300 quilts each year. The quilters carry out their stitching every other Wednesday (and sometimes Saturdays and at home) and their handiwork is then distributed to those in need throughout the region.

The group’s founder, Marylou Wahl, said they donate the quilts to a number of organizations, including the City Rescue Mission in Albany. They also reach out to local hospitals and even to those in Schoharie County who lost everything during Tropical Storm Irene.

“In conjunction with a small friendship quilt group I have, we did quilts for the children at the Gilboa-Conesville School,” said Wahl. “There were 30 families left homeless, which involved 56 children.”

Wahl said the donations began years ago when they realized that there was a need for quilts throughout the community.

“Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming because there is such a great need,” said Wahl. “In fact this year, what we’ve done is since September, we’ve been meeting every Wednesday so that we could make sure that we would meet the needs.”

Kathy Riedel, a member of the group, pointed out that the donations go beyond the Capital District.

“We’ve sent a number of quilts overseas to the troops through people of the church that have sons or daughters or nephews in Iraq or Afghanistan,” said Riedel.

Wahl estimated that about 100 quilts would be distributed before the end of the year. Recipients will include patients at the children’s hospital at Albany Medical Center and those undergoing chemotherapy at St. Peter’s Hospital.

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