Requests for donated items increase for Missoula sewing group


MISSOULA, Mont. - A sewing group formed in Missoula 15 years ago makes various items for people in need.

Coordinators for the Martha Sewing Ministry say requests continue to increase.

"The need is always there," said Mary Wachtel.

About 35 ladies gather five times a month to sew, knit and crochet in Missoula.

The group stepped in after kindergarten was extended to a full day in Missoula, and a teacher had asked her kindergarteners to bring in something to nap on.

"She got one raggedy blanket and two towels," said Wachtel.

The women also helped Willard School students make blankets for homeless students across Missoula.

"These were given out by the school administration to those kids who they knew were couch surfing or sleeping in cars or whatever," said Wachtel.

The women make all kinds of items, including handmade prostheses for breast cancer victims.

"Some prostheses are very heavy. They're rubber. They sweat. Some people have a hard time getting fitted. These (knitted prostheses) are soft and feel more natural. They are an alternative for people who may not be able to afford the other prostheses or who may just prefer a lighter version," said Kaycee Schilke.

Schilke helps distribute the handmade prosthetics through a national organization called Knitted Knockers.

Even though the Martha Sewing Ministry has supplied more than 25,000 items all over the world, the women are also here to support each other.

"... as they have been long term care givers, as their spouses have died, through difficult pregnancies, alcoholism, through battling with children and loved ones with addiction problems. We just take care of each other," said Edna Kinsella.

So while these women work to help someone a world away, they're also helping the person sitting right next to them.

The Martha Sewing Ministry has distributed items to more than 40 nonprofit groups.

Some of the knitted prosthetics are available at the Cancer Center at St. Patrick Hospital.

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