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'Needlers' stitch together the religious divide

Date: 11/18/2008

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD "The Needlers" are a group of women from the Greater West Springfield area who gather together each week at Grace Lutheran Church and bridge the religious divide.

Some members call it a "social hour" but each week Tuesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. about 20 women, ranging in faith, township and age become one group dedicated to serving others.

Since 1995, "The Needlers" have crocheted, quilted, knitted, beaded and sewn baptism baby blankets, hats and mittens for premature babies and cancer patients at Baystate Medical Center, scarves for servicemen and prayer shawls for those who are sick or have experienced the loss of a loved one.

"It's a time to do for others because that's what we should all be doing is serving others," Dorothy Bodendorf, a member of "The Needlers," said. "That's our Christian faith is to be active and to be serving. Jesus served and that's what we want to do."

Sarah Kirst, a member of "The Needlers" noted that those seeking to join the group do not have to be members of Grace Lutheran Church or Lutherans.

Kirst said the group, comprised of women ages 17 to 94, has donated over 100 hats and 30 scarves throughout the past year. She added that for those who are inexperienced there is always a member willing to teach their craft.

Kirst explained that some of the materials are donated but that most women bring their own, as they like to continue their work at home.

"I've enjoyed every week I've been there," Bodendorf said, adding that the group also works on items for the annual Christmas Craft Fair at the beginning of December.

Kirst explained that each week the group collects $1 from each member to fund their annual luncheon and that a different member brings breakfast.

For more information about the group or to donate materials contact Kirst at 562-5257.