There is an old saying that says “quilts are like friends — a great source of comfort and warmth,” and that is what a group of about 20 men and women in the Buffalo Lake area feel. They have bound together, to reach out, to fill the simplest need of warmth for someone somewhere by making quilts for people in need. They have earned the reputation of caring and giving people… and were appropriately entitled the Blanket Angels.
The Blanket Angels, which is coordinated or managed by Laurie Karl, of Buffalo Lake, have made more than 3,600 large quilts and more than 700 baby quilts in the last 20 years. The quilts are given to families at baptisms, graduations, and those going through difficult times because of illness, tornado, flood or fire. Quilts went to refugee camps in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Honduras where children were freezing.
Why Blanket Angels They gave 70-80 quilts to the Ronald McDonald House every year and that is how the name Blanket Angels was pinned. A woman from Texas, whose son was battling for his life, was staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis. Her son received a quilt from them with pictures of clouds on it. On that same day her son started to improve, so she said,“You are the blanket angels.”
Who are the Blanket Angels According to Laurie Karl, “We have many people working together to create these quilts, not only do they donate their time and their talents, but also their love goes into each one. We are made of women, men, and kids. Our men cut squares and sew tops. Our eight teens sew some of the children’s quilts … plus help us haul them. The women cut squares, sew tops, tie tops, hem and label our finished product. Each quilt is sewn with care and love. Our workers are young and old. Some work strictly at home, while others work at Zion Lutheran Church and at home. Most of our group comes from a 15-mile radius of Zion Lutheran and other churches. We have a man from St. Peter sewing tops for us. He isn’t a relative and he wasn’t a friend — a complete stranger that was brought to us out of the clear blue. We are all so blessed to have Howard Anderson.”
Karl, who lives on a farm in rural Buffalo Lake and is a member of the Zion Lutheran Church, has been managing the group for the past 20 years. She schedules nine sessions starting in January and wraps things up by the second week of April because that is when the farm fieldwork starts. In that three and a half months, they finish 200 large quilts. They use about 1,600 yards of material, most of which is donated as unused fabric and scraps delivered to the church by angels dropping off boxes for them so they can keep sewing. “She’s a slave driver,” said Marion Fenske in jest referring to Karl. Eleanor Michelson, who turned 86 and helps with the quilting process, complimented Karl by saying “She took it over and made it grow. We are grateful for the work she has put into this quilting.”
Ronald McDonald House, Food for Kidz, Safe Avenues (shelter house), local fires and disasters, are just some of the places they take quilts. Quilts are like lives: bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love. One of the families they helped was the Leon and Cathy Witter family from Hector. The Witters lost their home to a fire this summer (2013). The Blanket Angels gave them four quilts. The Witter responded with the following thank you”
Laurie Karl and the Blanket Angels, We would like to thank you for your support of our family after the fire. The four quilts you gave to us are a stunning reminder of God’s care and love for us. We have been truly blessed as friends and neighbors have reached out to us. Thank you. (signed, the Witters, Leon, Cathy, Cole)
“All of us, who meet, enjoy our time together. It’s work, but doing it together makes it fun. It’s a labor of love. We enjoy putting our hands and hearts together to help others,” Karl said.