Stitchers put their skills to use to benefit their community

Jenice Haneline (left) and Kate Schwartz work on quilt squares during a recent meeting of the Piecemakers Quilt Club. The group, one of 11 Extension Homemaker clubs in the county, meets on the first Thursday evening of every month.
Photo by Andre Laird.

Huntington County is fortunate to have a large pool of local stitchers who are willing to provide comfort to those in need by way of their homemade gifts.

Extension Homemakers from around the county gather in groups throughout the year to work on various projects or discuss upcoming events, like the sewing day on Jan. 29. That event will be held at the Courthouse Annex meeting room, 354 N. Jefferson St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Guests are welcome to attend the sewing day - one of four scheduled throughout the year - during which the group works on community projects. And while attendance is normally not real high, behind-the-scenes stitchers help the group complete a number of projects.

"Generally there are six to eight people, but there is a large number of ladies who sew on their own," says Stephanie Jerabek, president of the county's Extension Homemakers.

The group last met in October, when they worked on pillows.

"We worked on teen pillows that we gave to the Youth Services Bureau."

County Extension Homemakers belong to the state Extension Homemaker group, and therefore work on some projects that go to people outside the area.

"We are given the charge of doing state-level projects as well as community projects," Jerabek notes. "Pillows are a state project. We make pillows for Riley Hospital, but they always end up with way too many."

The local group gives the extras to area agencies and organizations. The Jan. 29 sewing day will be devoted to making heart-shaped pillows and turbans for cancer patients, Jerabek adds.

Another project Extension Homemakers are involved with is for preschool-age children.

"We partner in a reading program for Head Start," Jerabek says. "First Books for Kids is a national program," she notes, adding the Homemakers go in and read to the children.
"We make tote bags and the kids get books to take home."

A local sorority provides grant money to help with the costs.

Many of the county's Extension Homemaker groups have been in existence for many years, but one devoted entirely to sewing got its start just a few years ago - the Piecemakers Quilt Club.

"This is our eighth year," says Jerabek, who is a member of the club. "We're the only one focused on sewing."
The Piecemakers Quilt Club normally meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Evangelical United Methodist Church on Flaxmill Road. The club has around 25 members.

"Our youngest one is 8 and the oldest is 90," Jerabek says of the club's diverse membership.

"We provide quilts or throws for Parkview Huntington, that's mostly what the club does. The quilts are usually crib-size or a little larger," offering comfort to the hospital's young patients or adults who are in need.

"We try to make sure there are always quilts at the hospital."

Susan Schultz is president of the Piecemakers Quilt Club while Jerabek serves as treasurer and is also the community involvement chair.

"If anybody has a request (for quilts) from the community, it comes in to me," she says. "I make sure the request is met and completed. We still get requests for hurricane relief quilts."

Other upcoming sewing days for the county's Extension Homemakers group, which numbers somewhere between 125 and 150 members, are Feb. 24 and March 19. Visitors are always welcome, Jerabek notes.

For more information about the county Extension Homemakers or a specific club, call the county's Purdue Extension office at 358-4826.