Volunteers continue tight-knit mission

Published 10:30 am Friday, February 15, 2013

Meridee Robinson sews walker caddie during Westminster Presbyterian Church's mission workshop Wednesday morning at the church.

Dozens of fingers tirelessly sorted through papers, stitched, knitted and organized materials Wednesday, as the Presbyterian Women of the Church continued their annual mission.

Gloria Falconer has seen this so many times before, she can’t quite recall exactly how many years it has been happening at Westminster Presbyterian in Austin. Every year at the beginning of February, the women meet to make hats, dresses, scarves, diapers, essentials kits and feel-good items for orphans, poverty-stricken people around the world and even local shut-ins in nursing homes.

Finished knitted hats for Romanian orphans are placed together on a table.

Falconer walked out of the kitchen, where she assured plenty of hot coffee, cookies and bars were no more than a few feet away and ready to fuel those fingers with caffeine and sugar.

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“I’m like the old penny that keeps turning up,” Falconer said. “They can’t get rid of me.”

She remembers how local women started getting involved in the mission about 50 years ago, perhaps further back than that. Many have participated over the decades, including Sue Radloff.

“In 1971, Eunice Burton invited me as a guest,” she recalled. Radloff, like the others, continues to help throughout the years, not only because is it the right thing to do, but also it’s excellent fellowship time.

Since its infancy, the mission has expanded. In 2000, Falconer was inspired to help orphans after seeing an informational video during a Presbyterian Women’s meeting in the Twin Cities. On Wednesday about 30 people pitched in however they could. Several women created pamphlets about their church, while two women at another table stuffed bags with shampoo, tissues, and other essentials and goodies. Several women sewed dresses and clothing for children in Haiti.

Piles of yarn crowded another table while women knitted hats and scarves for orphans in Romania, the same orphans Falconer decided to help 13 years ago. Others find helping those orphans a fitting part of their lives, too, even though they may never meet those children.

“I try to make each one different, so each kid has their own hat,” said Nancy DeCoux, who had knitted and finished several hats. Many years ago, she adopted two children from Asia who are now in their 20s. She has a soft spot for orphans.

The group may collectively make dozens of items in one day, but they will take their projects home and continue them all year, too. As Falconer puts it, each person only works on one small project, but that makes a difference.

“That’s the wonderful part,” Falconer said. “I tell people, ‘You can’t do everything, but pick one or two things, and do what you can.’ We’ll do the best we can, and that’s all anybody can do.”

Nancy DeCoux knits a stocking hat.