Go to the Fellowship Hall on every 3rd and 4th Monday of each month from 9-12 PM, and you’ll see tall tables covered with quilts in the process of being assembled, sewing machines off to the side sitting next to big bins filled with fabric, the stage stacked with completed quilts, and a workstation with items ready to fill baby and school kits. It’s a busy place filled with kind women who get together to use their talents to serve others.
Trinity’s Quilters have been around for a good 50 or 60 years, according to Shirley Eide and Nancy Rockman, Co-Chairs of the group. The mission of the group is to assemble quilts (as well as Baby Kits and School Kits) to send to Lutheran World Relief (LWR) for distribution in countries with a need. Approximately 219 quilts are ready to ship now with more being assembled.

Eide explained that individuals take the materials home and sew tops, liners and backs, and then the rest is assembled at Trinity. The material comes from donations to the church initially. The Quilters cut blocks of fabric in preparation, and people may then take the blocks home to fashion a quilt in any way they choose, sticking to the regulations of the LWR. Certain measurements are standard, along with stipulations of what is allowed on the quilt itself. For example, no words or holiday patterns are acceptable for use in other countries.
For a room that looks like a small factory on these Mondays, Eide says, “We really just assemble the quilts here.” The goal for each workday is to finish 20 quilts. However, Eide pointed out, “Today we only have one sewer, so it might be 6 or 7.” Each “station” consists of women cutting, pinning, tying and sewing, and if any more happiness could be found while creating for others, it would be something to witness. The Quilters do what they do because: “It is SO Fun!” “It’s good socializing and good food (referring to the coffee break they have at 10:15)!” “We really have a good purpose!” “It’s part of being a servant church, and we feel like we’re accomplishing something.”
Just as the quilts themselves “evolve” from the scraps of material, this group has evolved over the years. Eide explained, “We used to work from 8 AM to 2 or 3 PM, and all brought a sack lunch. We were pretty much here all day!” Now the hours have changed for their Monday workdays. They work from 9 AM to noon, with a little coffee/snack break at 10:15.
On this particular Monday, Eide and Rockman worked at a table together pinning the top, liner and back together of an evolving quilt. “Nancy and I try to coordinate a top and a back,” explained Eide. These are “utility quilts” that may be used for warmth, or they may be put on the ground, used as a door, and even sometimes used as a shroud.
Rockman mentioned that she sometimes sews the liners and backs at home. “There’s always something to do at home!” she laughed. The two Co-Chairs work well together. Charlotte Baker said, “They give us direction!” Another comment rose from within the group, “And they say, ‘Break is over!!’” Rockman added, “Sometimes we sound like we’re bossy, but we really aren’t!” Laughter, of course, erupted from this good-natured group.
From the “cutting station,” Marlene Freudenberg said, “It’s all fun! We have a good time or we wouldn’t come!”

Others chimed in, “It’s about the fellowship really,” and “It’s easier to do when you know you’re doing it for someone else.” For people who are interested in getting involved with this quilting ministry, the women advise just to come and join them! “Just have a willing heart!” Eide said. “It’s a really fun time and you know you’re carrying out the mission of the church. We welcome anybody, and we’d like to have an overflowing crowd down here!”
Of course, donations are always welcomed by the Trinity Quilters. They’re in need of sheets in any condition for use as quilt liners. Fabric donations and monetary donations/memorials are very much appreciated. The mission is simple. Help others in need. Eide said, “It’s a good feeling. Someone stays warm somewhere in the world because of what we’ve done here.”

LWR Baby and School Kits

Working on Kits

The ladies on the stage have an agenda of their own: assemble LWR Baby Kits and LWR School Kits with loving care. Shirley Eide makes backpacks for the School Kits, and they are filled with school supplies donated from congregation members. Kay Larsen explained that donations may be dropped off at the Trinity Office, and currently, they are in great need of children’s blunt scissors, pencil sharpeners (that catch the wood shavings), and 70-page notebooks.
In assembling Baby Kits, long-time volunteer LaVonne Welch mentioned that certain things are becoming more difficult to find…especially cloth diapers and diaper pins. When faced with the shortage, Welch has made diapers to add to the kits. Scouting out second-hand shops and sales take some extra time but are well worth the finds. “Monetary donations are the best and then we can figure out what we need,” Welch explained.

Margaret Torkelson: A Quilting Marvel

An extraordinary example of a woman who contributes her quilting talents to serve others is Margaret Torkelson. Recently, she donated 96 quilts that she made herself to Trinity and the Lutheran World Relief mission. She received fabric from LeAnn Dixon (her husband, Warren’s sister), and in 8 months, she cut out, pieced, sewed and tied all 96 quilts personally.
This was her 2022 donation, along with other quilt tops she has sewn regularly for the Trinity Quilters. Torkelson’s 2017 donation began with fabric from Bobbi Benjegerdes and evolved into 37 quilts donated to LWR. Since coming to Trinity 8 years ago, Torkelson has sewn 1414 quilt tops, 316 of those ready to ship to LWR. Her pandemic project in 2020 involved “taking some time off from sewing quilts” to sew 561 face masks, most of which were given to Good Shepherd or One Vision.
For a person who remembers her mother teaching her how to sew straight lines on a treadle machine “so I wouldn’t get my fingers in the needle,” Torkelson says, “I use what I have and make something new!” By using “scraps that are around me, I do the basic stuff.” This “basic stuff” includes using materials such as baby blanket sleepers, dental jackets, old beach towels and tablecloths to make quilt liners…and then material galore to make the quilt tops and backs for people literally around the world. Torkelson is making a difference, one stitch at a time, and Trinity is blessed with her willingness to donate her time and talent to such a good ministry. †