Lutheran ladies prove age is no barrier when it comes to love

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

One stitch at a time coupled with one colored photo, and the chain begins for another quilt that will give warmth to the newest members of the world with love from some ladies at the St. Paul Lutheran Church, Olean.

Known as the Martha Circle, the ladies meet the second Thursday of each month to work on their exclusive project, making quilts for newborn babies.

Several members, actually most members of the group are over 90 years of age. Alta Diem, who is the oldest member at 94, sews the quilt squares together on her singer sewing machine she has had for years.

According to Eileen LaGreca, one of the few members under the 90 mark, noted that the ladies came up with the theme and wanted to use flannel backgrounds on each quilt for warmth. They give each baby baptized in their church a quilt that has their name and date of birth on it. However, the ladies reach beyond their own congregation and since April have made nine quilts, with five more in the process, some of which will be donated to local shelters.

LaGreca said the ladies are excited about the project that allows them to still use skills and be useful at the same time. They color some of the squares with non-washable markers. They have colorful themes with animals and toys that little children would enjoy. Truly Draut suggested putting “Jesus Loves Me This I Know!” on each quilt to remind not only the child, but the caregiver of the love they are sharing.

Members of the group include: Esther Booster, Pat Daily, Alta Diem, Truly Draut, Esther Gilliland, June Hurelbrink, Eileen LaGreca, Patsy Ralston and Meta Thieman.

According to LaGreca, she entered one of the baby quilts of the Martha Circle ladies in the recent Versailles Pumpkin Show where they took a Blue Ribbon for their work. She is proud of the work they do and knows they do it out of hearts of love and it shows in the work they produce.

Alta Diem, 94, still plugs away sewing together quilt blocks to complete soft flannel quilts for newborns. She is part of a group at her church, St. Paul Lutheran, Olean, called the Martha Circle. The ladies, many over the age of 90, gather each month and make quilts for babies in their church and also in the community.