Zion Lutheran Church Crafters

Photos by Jane Primerano

By Jane Primerano


LONG VALLEY – A group of members and friends of Zion Lutheran Church get together on Monday mornings to drink coffee, chat and do crafts.

However, what sets them apart from other “crafty ladies” is the fact they donate the crafts toward a major fundraiser every year.

Jeanne Howell works on a fleece throw in her kitchen.

Jeanne Howell organized the group and they meet each week in the kitchen of the house she and her late husband built more than 20 years ago. Members of the group do their own projects or work in pairs.

On a recent Monday, Marilyn Hibler, Ann Rahmann and Cathy DeLello were all knitting individual projects. Carol Morris and Marcia Horner were beading ribbon into necklaces or decorations. Mary Gustafson was producing decorative boxes.

“I was born with knitting needles in my hand,” Hibler joked. Others said they had been doing crafts nearly that long.

Gustafson said she didn’t really start doing crafts until she retired. She described the techniques she uses to make the gift boxes. . She takes gift boxes and removes the decorative paper then wraps them in fabric and embosses them with ribbon and other accessories.

“If you don’t take the paper off, it’s harder to make them fit once you put the fabric on,” she explained.

Many of the crafts are sold at an annual fair at Zion to raise money for specific causes. Each year the group chooses a charity, family or individual to assist. This year’s fair, the fourth, was held on Nov. 10 and raised more than $3,000 for a family in Pennsylvania. The mother of three boys under 8-years-old is losing her battle with cancer, Howell said. She said one of the boys is on the autism spectrum and the youngest has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome which may include distinctive facial characteristics, growth delays, intellectual disabilities and limb defects.

Mary Gustafson fashions a bow for one of her decorative boxes.

In past years the group raised money for the family of a child who died of leukemia, Howell said. They also made pillows for a project of the national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, of which Zion is a part.  

“We’ve made pillows for five or six years, usually from fleece,” Howell said.

The ELCA sends young people into Bosnia and Herzegovina to run camps for children each summer. Horner’s daughter starting participating in the project when she was 17 and met and fell in love with one of the young translators. They now live in Philadelphia, Horner said.

Horner said three ethnic/religious groups live in the country. Croatians are Roman Catholic, Serbs are Orthodox Catholic and Bosniaks are Muslim. The annual camps bring children from all three groups together. The ELCA trains some of the young people in country as translators.

The crafty ladies made pillows, often heart-shaped, with pockets in which they could place notes to the children. One year they inserted wooden cut-out hearts. The ELCA finds foundations and companies that donate sporting goods and other things the children can use at camp, Horner said.


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