Purchasing food for the local Homeless shelter

My Lutheran church assists the local homeless shelter in our area every month. I’m the one that purchases the food.  We have other volunteers that prepare the meals. I use to prepare breakfast, usually I was alone, and prepared a home cooked meal for about 31 guests. I enjoyed it immensely. The time flew by very quickly and I enjoyed interacting with the guests while I was there.

But purchasing the food still keeps me connected even though I physically can’t be there to prepare the meals since it conflicts with my schedule. Because of the weather forecast for later this week, I’m thinking about dropping off the food early.

Regardless of the season, it’s important to remember there are always people in need of assistance. Many that are at the shelter do have jobs, some have lost their jobs and others have had their hours cut, which makes them unable to afford a home. This shelter can only hold a small amount of people, 35 maximum. I can’t help but think about the ones that are unable to be placed in the shelter. This is in a rural area, so the shelters are sparse. While some might think that the need isn’t great, if you are in a rural, predominantly white, area, they would be wrong.



Believe Big: Mugs for Cancer Patients; update

If you read my recent post, you’ll know that this past weekend, my daughter, her friend and I painted mugs for cancer patients.

I was thrilled to see that Amazing Glaze posted the mugs that the group from our Lutheran Church had made. These mugs will be given to Believe Big, who will then distribute them to cancer patients..

Believe Mugs
Mugs painted for cancer patients

We had a great time, looking forward to going back and making gift items for loved ones.

Volunteering: Preparing dinner at the homeless shelter and cooking at home

Later this afternoon, I’ll be going to the homeless shelter to help cook the dinner meal. It’s my first time making dinner at the shelter. I’m usually the one cooking breakfast, but I’m unable to do that this month.

While my nine-year old daughter was in school, she’d asked me several times if she could join me. She still at the age where she wants to follow mom everywhere, and she’s heard me talk about the volunteers, other guests, and the wonderful time I have when there, it’s natural that she’d want to experience it too, and today she will. She’s excited about the fact that she will be able to help cook a meal.

What did I prepare at home?

I prepared a vegetable pasta using my spiral vegetable slicer. Vegetable pasta, is something I was introduced to years ago, through one of the raw food websites I frequented. Perfect choice for someone who want’s a healthier meal, or someone that can’t tolerate gluten (such as myself.)

Occasionally I’ll marinate my raw vegetable pasta for a few hours before I serve it. Vegetable pasta is usually made with some type of squash, but I’ve used beets, carrots, and occasionally cucumbers too. I use this the traditional pasta, since it’s a healthier option, and the pasta resembles your traditional pasta. Today, I used zucchini and made “zucchini pasta.” 

I also made cheese steak for my daughter; of course, the one I prepared was a healthier option than what is usually purchased, but according to her it was still very tasty. No, she wasn’t just saying that, she’ll definitely tell me whether she doesn’t like something I’ve prepared.

I  coarsely chopped steak into a skillet. Once it was cooked, I drained off the fat, and added the steak back into the skillet. Some seasonings were added along with finely chopped zucchini pasta (it looked like shredded mozzarella), green onions, garlic,  and tomatoes, freshly picked from the garden.  I let those cook for a while, and then added provolone cheese.  Spinach leaves were added once it was loaded onto a crusty Italian roll.

Along with that, I made oven baked fries. I used four potatoes, cut them into potato wedges, added a mix of seasonings/herbs, and slid them into the oven. I had some of the pasta along with a delightful lentil dish I’d prepared yesterday. It tasted even better today.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to take a picture sometime this evening… before it all disappears.

Volunteering: Coordinator for local homeless shelter

July 2012, I’ll officially take on the role as homeless shelter coordinator for my Lutheran church. 

It’s a volunteer position, and it’s something I’m really excited about. 

I enjoy volunteering  since I’m in direct contact with the people who benefit from the services; it also gives me a chance to engage and learn more about them. If I desire to be Christ like, at times I need to step out of my comfort zone, and do things I normally wouldn’t do. Interacting with those at the homeless shelter isn’t new to myself, since I was introduced to the ministry when I was eight years old.

The church my parents attend also had a similar ministry. I can still remember that the children’s Sunday school group, sang at the Baltimore Rescue Mission; this was around Christmas time. Initially I was nervous, some of the guests looked “strange,” but I soon realized they were people too, and I shouldn’t treat them any differently. My parents were helpful with that. At that age, I determined when I got older; I would somehow be involved with the homeless. Throughout my adult life, the way I’ve done this is volunteering at homeless shelters.

Regarding the new position, I have a lot of ideas, and am eager to discuss them with others on the servanthood committee, to get their feedback. I must say that I’m impressed with my Lutheran church. At times, some people assume that groups that are church based are disorganized. Not so at my church, outside of the obvious Christian message, the meetings I’m attending are no different from the ones I attended in the corporate world. My church definitely believes in having things done decently and in order.

The ministry isn’t new to myself, since I’ve been volunteering with this current local homeless shelter, since I learned about the ministry in January 2012. Before that time, I was going downtown to assist. It’s nice to be part of a church that has several ministries available to those who attend the church. I also volunteer with the food pantry, and the quilting group. About five years ago, if you were to tell me that I’d be this actively involved with a church, I would have told you that you were nuts!  Although I’ve always tried to be nice to others, and was always involved with outreach ministries. I was doing that on my own, since for many years I stopped going to church.

One of the many things I love about my Lutheran church is that they put their faith in action. So yes, there are numerous ministries made available for those who truly want to serve.

Getting active, doesn’t always mean you have to give money to an organization. There are other ways to help… 

These ministries require only a few hours of my time each month to serve others. The challenge that many volunteer groups face, is finding people willing to make the time. Many of us spend hours weekly/monthly doing things we want to do, how many of us take the time to help others?

There are a lot of people right here in the United States that are suffering; especially with our current economy.  Sometimes people simply need to know that there are those who care about them. At times, people get so caught up in our fast paced society, that they forget to be compassionate towards those who are less fortunate.

Crocheting and knitting items for those in need

The cooler months are still a way off, but I’m already thinking of cold weather items I can donate to the various organizations I’m affiliated with.

Clothing is a nonissue. I have contacts with a local second hand shop, and so can supply those in need with clothing, toys, and sometimes electrical appliances too.

But, I must admit, I do like adding handcrafted items to the mix. 

I’ve always enjoyed creating items for those in need. In the past, the items I’ve given have mainly been sewn, like the quilts made for the Lutheran World Relief. I also make handmade cards for our soldiers too. This year is different since I’ll be adding crocheted and knitted items to that list.  How cool is that? 

Knitting Stockinette scarf 1

Stockinette scarf

In the above picture, you can see a stockinette scarf that I’m knitting. I started on it last evening, and it’s working up fairly quickly. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about knitting is I don’t have to look at my work. I “know” whether I do something wrong. Because of that, I was knitting this scarf, while watching Coraline the movie for the bazillionth time. My daughter really loves the movie.

The color I chose for the scarf is bright and cheerful, and more important it’s warm. I was torn on how to make the scarf, originally I was going to make it in garter stitch. Since that’s a bit stretchier and it since it uses more yarn, it’ll be warmer too. But, I do like stockinette scarves too, and so I decided to make my first scarf of 2012 using the stockinette stitch.

Yarns used for charity

The types of yarn I use for charity varies. If I know, it’ll be going to someone that might not have a lot of money. I usually opt for acrylics, not because I think less of them. I just don’t think it’s reasonable to think they’ll have the funds to dry clean the items I make.

What I love about acrylics is you can just toss it in the washing machine, take it out and wear it. They won’t have to worry about messing up a delicate fiber since the handmade item is acrylic. Perfect for those who might not have a lot of money. It’s also perfect for those with children, or people who can’t be bothered with special care instructions.

But back to my stockinette scarf…

Because of it’s tendency to roll, the stockinette stitch is best suited for circular items such as socks, stockings, hats, gloves. You can combat the roll in a variety of ways. In the above picture, I added a few knit stitches at the beginning and end of each pearl row. I could also have added cables, seed stitch, or a variety of other options to prevent the stockinette from rolling.

The next charity items I’ll be making are hats. I’ll do a combination of crocheted and knitted hats. I’ve always been fond of the garter stitch, and so a few of my hats will be knitted that way.

Volunteering is very important to me, and it’s something I do weekly. Not just around the holiday season, since I realize that some people face difficulties throughout the year. 

Teeni, you’ll be happy to know that I’m now comfortable with my circular knitting needles, and I’m as fast as knitting with regular needles. 

Awesome deal: yarn stash updated; Mother Bear Project

After the 9:00 morning service at our Lutheran church, my daughter and I stopped by a store. 

I was running out of the acrylic yarn that I use for the Mother Bear Project, and I needed more…

Crochet aminekos Red Heart yarn

Marigold and Mario (my daughters crochet aminekos) are turning up everywhere aren’t they? Now they’re on the new Red Heart yarn…

We stopped at Michaels first, since I needed eyes to complete the Red Angry Bird I’m making for my five-year old nephew. While there I decided to check out their yarn; sometimes they have great deals. Turns out I came at the right time, since the Red Heart Super Saver yarn was only $1.89.  It’s usually $2.99 at Michael’s. Red Heart yarn is cheaper at Wal-Mart. I grabbed seven skeins, thinking I’d stop by later in the day, and really clean up… in hindsight I should have bought more.

I was thrilled… since this now meant I didn’t have to stop by Wal-Mart just to pick up the yarn, however, when I walked up to the cash register I faced a slight problem…

Red Heat Super Saver yarn

The Red Heart yarn was ringing up at the regular price; $2.99. Wait… what? I told the cashier that it was on sale, She shook her head, “No, it’s not. I mentioned the sign, and so she sent another employee back to check. That employee came back, nope she didn’t see it either, and so I went back and pointed it out to her.

That sign was easy to overlook, whoever had put it there, had tucked it in a spot where it didn’t stand out, and so the one day sale on yarn which should have been removed yesterday, was still there today about twenty minutes after the store opened.

The good news is that Michael’s did honor, the lower price, and with the additional yarn I already had I have enough acrylic yarn; to keep crocheting bears for The Mother Bear Project for quite some time.

Many thanks to the cashiers at Michaels in White Marsh, Maryland, being polite, and honoring the advertised price.

Mother Bear Project Crochet

This lovely girl lives in Namibia, and  seems happy with her crocheted bear.

Why am I choosing acrylic yarn for crocheting amigurumi bears?

The Mother Bear Project sends crocheted and knitted bears to children…

The Mother Bear Project is dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear. 

The simple gift of a hand-knit bear with a tag signed by the knitter has touched children with the message that they are unconditionally loved. 

The last thing their caregivers needs to be concerned with is ruining the bear by washing it incorrectly; with some of your delicate fibers this can be an issue. Acrylic fiber is durable, and can be washed at any temperature either by hand or tossed into a washing machine. Perfect!

What I’ve been forgetting to do, is to take pictures of the crocheted bears I’ve already made for this organization, and sharing some of them here at Celebrate Life. Although this isn’t the normal way I volunteer, I do believe this is the perfect chance for some kindhearted crocheters and knitters to help those in need..  

 How can I participate in the Mother Bear Project?

If you crochet or knit, and would like to make bears to send to this wonderful organization, stop by the Mother Bear Project website, learn how you can donate your bears to help children in need.

Phillipians 2: 3-4

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

In my early twenties, I had a hard time giving the things I’d create to people I didn’t know. Those items were my babies, some items (such as the cross-stitched afghans) took a while to create. And so I created only items for friends/loved ones. What changed that? It’s hard to say, but I know that…

One day I thought about the amazing things that strangers have done throughout time; Soldiers fighting for us, and in many instances giving their lives so others they don’t even know might have freedom, civil rights supporters doing the same thing, organ, and blood donors, the list is endless of what some people will do for perfect strangers… and it made my hangups (about making crafted items for those I don’t know) seem a bit selfish. This wasn’t about anyone else, and what they were doing; it’s how I viewed what I wasn’t doing…

Although these children are far away, I’m thrilled that I can help out in some way, and perhaps put a smile on their faces too… Thanks Mother Bear Project!

It’s a chilly Sunday in Maryland; it’s about 45 F.  It’s Spring here, but it doesn’t feel like it. We have a fire going in the wood stove… later today I’ll be curling up next to my daughter and crocheting some bears.

Photo Source: Mother Bear Project

Quilts; Global Missions Sunday

Quilts Global Missions Sunday 6

During the lenten season, my Lutheran church has a Global Missions Sunday. Ours was held on 03/11/12.

Global Missions Sunday, wasn’t our typical church  service. It was nice hearing music from different cultures, listening to people translating verses into different languages. After the church service, people were treated to samples of food from various cultures. Each small group ministry made a dish from a certain country.

Quilts Global Missions Sunday 1

Just look at these quilts! Aren’t they beautiful? This small group ministry has many talented ladies! I’m one of the main machine sewers, so I’ve sewn many of the quilts featured here. Some of our quilters enjoying piecing the quilts together, and by looking at the quilts you can see they do excellent work. The material needed to make the quilts are mainly received through donations.

A few of the ladies, make hand-sewn quilts. They’ve occasionally brought in those quilts to show. They’re beautiful.

Quilts Global Missions Sunday 4

The day before the event, our quilting group set out the quilts we’d made, 136 were made in time for Global Missions Sunday. Early Saturday morning you could find me at church helping the other ladies in our quilting group, spread the quilts out on every church pew.

After the second church service ended the quilts were folded, and set aside to be taken to the next day to Lutheran World Relief. They have an office in Maryland. The quilts that we made are distributed to poor people in other countries.

Global Missions Sunday was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to it next year. The day was a great time to fellowship, recognize and honoring each others culture, cultural unity!