PITTSBURG — Nearly every Wednesday a group of ladies meet in the basement of St. John Lutheran Church to bring warmth to those in need.

Marilyn Davis and about 14 other women get together each week to layout and sew blankets for Lutheran World Relief.

“Lutheran World Relief gives out blankets like these all over the world,” Davis said. “They are sent to disaster areas and refugee camps.”

Davis said she and the other ladies make about 400 blankets per year. The blankets are shipped once a year to a warehouse in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they await distribution by LWR.

However, Davis said not all the blankets make it out of southeast Kansas.

“There is also a local need,” she said. “Years ago when a tornado hit Franklin, we had about 20 made up and the pastor just came and grabbed them and headed out.”

The church also gave away five blankets to incoming international students last fall. Davis said she enjoys meeting people in the community who have received a blanket.

The blankets are made from a top piece, which usually has a design, a middle layer of soft padding and a plain bottom. The ladies lay the three parts out on a table and fold edges of the top under the blanket to be sewn.

Besides thread, needles and pins, all materials for the blankets are donated from the public. Davis said the group usually sees a spike in donations when people begin spring cleaning.

“We’re always surprised at how many people have material in the back of their closets or cupboards,” she said. “And a lot of very beautiful material.”

Fabric donations can be dropped off before noon at St. John Lutheran Church Monday through Friday.

Aside from donations, Davis said more help is always welcome. While a couple ladies need to be able to sew, Davis said no experience is necessary to lay out the blankets.

“You don’t need any special ability,” Davis said. “And you don’t have to be white haired and retired.”

The church has hosted groups making blankets for a very long time, according to Davis. Even though she said sewing doesn’t seem as popular a skill as it used to be, she expects the tradition to live on.

“It’s gone on for a long time, and we think it will continue for years to come,” she said.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.