Flathead County Coverage

Dec 28, 2012 9:41 PM by Laura Wilson - KAJ News

Bigfork crafters making shawls honoring Newtown victims

BIGFORK - The Newtown, Connecticut community has been inundated with gifts and donations In the wake of the tragic school shooting.

The community is now asking that those gifts be used by groups to support their local community, and that includes the Flathead.

Bethany Lutheran church member Ginny Johnson has been stitching love, care, and prayer into shawls that she sends out to those in need of a little support for over two years.

"People have felt that the comfort in these shawls has really helped them," Johnson said."

It's part of a national effort to help people celebrate happy occasions, or grieve sad ones.

Johnson's Bethany prayer shawl group continues to grow. Since 2010, the group has stitched up more than 500 shawls, which have been sent to people all over the world.

"It's gone beyond my vision," Johnson said. "It's taken a life of its own, because everyone loves it. The girls are having such a fun time today, I think they'll come back. They always do."

Newcomer Kathy Sun said it's fun. "This is a great group of women. The spirit of Christ is here and this is just a really good project."

The group hosted a knit and crochet marathon Friday, which was first going to benefit the Sandy Hook victims and loved ones. When Newtown officials asked that people stop sending gifts, the women decided to donate locally instead.

"Their wishes are that when we do give them out to the needy-or whoever needs comfort and peace-that we do it in memory of the Sandy Hook loved ones," Bethany Prayer Shawl group member Bonnie Hoffman said.

"They don't want any more things, they want the good to come out of what has happened," Johnson explained.

Friday's event brought in a lot of newcomers, like Kalispell resident Kathy Sun-who knows first-hand that the shawls are much more than a piece of clothing.

"In 2010, I had a four organ transplant. My church and a dear friend both gave me prayer shawls. Just the comfort and the peace, and knowing that you are loved-it really helped with the whole ordeal. I slept with mine every night. They're worn and torn now, but they're very dear and very special."

Johnson said the project is wonderful. "It's become more than part of my life and more than everyone else's."

The Bethany prayer shawl group has helped start up four other similar groups, and hope to start hosting monthly crochet events.

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