Power of Prayer: Blankets of Comfort ministry crafting quilts for children in foster care
Hand-made blankets provide warm embrace for kids in crisis
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - In the next month, a new ministry in East Texas is aiming to deliver its first batch of hand-made blankets to Child Protective Services.
With more than 16 thousand children removed from unsafe situations across Texas, Blankets of Comfort Ministries aims to provide comfort to a fraction of those by offering a gesture to aid in spiritual and emotional healing.
Starting with Smith County, a patchwork of volunteers will assemble blankets for the project. Founder Jeannie Ebnet says the act of covering someone in crisis reminds her of the compassion shown by first responders.
“Any kind of trauma that all of us go through, what’s the first thing they do? They put a blanket around you whether it’s hold, cold, or anything else. It’s that comfort of having something around you.”
Ebnet, a retired nurse, recently organized a “blanket party” to introduce the ministry’s work to interested volunteers and instruct them on how to stitch love into every inch of the fabric. The concept is simple, but powerful.
“It’s not about me and what I can do. But it’s about God’s heart and how he feels about these children. And what his desire is for them to be comforted and consoled and taken care of during the worst part of their lives.”
Their goal is to produce a couple hundred handcrafted flannel blankets, so CPS workers in Smith County will be ready with a warm embrace.
A quilting hobby has become a calling for Ebnet. She says she got the idea for the ministry after being diagnosed with highly-aggressive oral cancer in 2011. Now in remission, she’s devoted to empowering others to serve God.
“The cancer led me to a point where I was open and to see something in a different light. It’s not about me. It’s about Him.”
Initially relying on a network of friends, fellow nurses, and now complete strangers, Blankets of Comfort is involving women and men of all skill levels.
Volunteer Linda Cox doesn’t sew or quilt. Instead, she’s involved in organizing volunteers and marketing the ministry.
“Wherever he is prayed over, that person will feel that blanket and feel God’s love. That’s the whole goal about it.”
Her personal connection to foster care drew her to the group. Cox grew up in the system and later became a foster care parent.
“They’ll always have that memory of what it was like somewhere else. And hopefully that’s a positive memory. And that’s always my goal when I foster parent -- is to give those kids a memory of what it can be like and to know Jesus Christ.”
A different person is responsible for a different step in the production process.
Volunteer Becky Olivarez says they pray for the future recipient along the way.
“We have people who are going to be cutting strips, cutting letters, washing, ironing, putting quilts together, sewing letters together.”
A key element of the design involves stitching gold letters that spell words of affirmation in a personalized message.
Examples include, ‘You are safe,’ and ‘You have a purpose.’
The selection of the phrases is intentional, Ebnet said.
“Words that mean something when they look at it, that encourage them. That, you know what, I’m somebody special. I don’t have to be abused. I don’t have to go through this. I have a meaning.”
The finished quilt is ready to comfort and protect once the ministry’s logo, a guardian angel of sorts, is attached.
Eventually, Blankets of Comfort Ministries looks to expand their efforts to counties all across East Texas. Ebnet says that will involve designating a “champion” for each county who will assist in coordinating the production among a local team of volunteers.
The group will be at the Jacksonville Tomato Fest on June 11 to share their mission and talk to anyone who might be interested in getting involved.
For more information on Blankets of Comfort Ministries, visit their website here.
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