Thompson, the minister of San Jose Christian Church, got the idea for
this retreat after he participated in a homeless simulation as a
student at Lincoln Christian College. "The experience tugged at
my heart, so I decided to lead my youth group in this
simulation," Thompson said. "I want kids to be aware that
the issues of the homeless are something that will be very real in
told the members of his youth group to show up for a retreat with only
their Bibles, one blanket and the clothes on their backs. Once they
arrived they were sent into the neighborhood, with the cooperation of
San Jose residents and the police department, to look for the boxes
that would become their homes for the evening. Two shantytowns were
then erected using the found boxes – one for female participants and
the other for males. Serena Blackstock, a participant said, "Some
boxes were better than others. The experience was fun, but at the same
time we learned a lot from it."
the shantytowns were completed, the groups located the canned food
items that had been previously hidden in the churchyard for their
evening meal. The groups’ resourcefulness determined if they would
eat the canned food cold or warm. One group asked a neighbor for
matches and was given kerosene to make a fire. Some expressed
difficulty in finding a way to cook over an open flame. Participant
Serena Blackstock said, "There was a lot of complaining, because
kids couldn’t eat what they wanted to eat, and there was a lot of
trading of food going on."
of the groups was subsequently selected to go out to dinner to eat a
hot meal. Jealousy ensued from those not chosen. They wanted to be in
the others’ shoes, Thompson said.
(To top of second
kids were roused by the chief of police twice during the night and
told to gather their belongings and move. The first time was at 1:45
a.m., when the police chief said that they were too close to the
street and would need to move to the back of the church’s lot. The
next time was at 4 a.m., when they were instructed to move into the
church building because it was lightning. Nikki Hamilton, a simulation
participant, said, "As soon as we would get settled we would have
to move. We had fun until that happened. I wouldn’t want to live
stated, "We want kids to appreciate what they have. This will
open their eyes."
had a lot of positive response from the congregation. We want to make
people aware of this problem so they will get involved," he
morning after the simulation, the youth group was treated to a
mission-style breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee. After breakfast the
youth group went door to door in San Jose on a canned food drive. They
collected food that will be donated to the Inner City Mission in
Jose, population 500, is located 20 miles northwest of Lincoln. This
is the first in a series of articles on issues regarding the homeless.
Becke, who helped to coordinate the project, calls the quilt a
"one-of-a-kind." She began her search for the international
quilting squares through an Internet site called the Trading Post. She
submitted a biographical letter explaining the project and sought
willing participants who would send their fabric squares in exchange
for squares from Lincoln. And along with the fabric, the senders also
would provide a letter that would tell a little bit about themselves
and their home.
[Ladies hold up their
"the millennium quilt."]
than 80 people exchanged the 2,000 fabric squares that make up the
king-plus size quilt. The carefully selected squares represent all 50
states and more than 25 countries, often displaying the city, state or
country from which they came, as well as a design or personal notes
from the senders. One square, for example, has a design of a crab to
represent Maryland, while another shows off a Florida palm tree.
the quilters reached their goal of 2,000 squares, they began piecing
together the top of the quilt. "We didn’t know how it would
look," explains Donna, "but we’re pleased. It’s very
pretty." The women worked each week for three hours and logged
more than 240 hours, quilting 12 to18 stitches per inch by hand. But,
despite the long hours and hard work, the quilters agree it is all
worth it. "Every stitch we put in here is feeding someone’s
child," says quilter Jane Horschem.
the hungry is the driving force behind the millennium quilt. All of
the money raised during the Harvest of Talents will go directly to
people in need. None of the money will be kept or used for
administrative costs by IDES. "The more money [the quilt] brings,
the more people it feeds," explains Donna. And, fellow quilter
Darlene Berger agrees, "We dream of how many people it’s going
(To top of second
column in this article)
[The women are working on
another quilt, also intended to go on sale at the Harvest of Talents
the project will certainly benefit those in need, it is clear that it
has touched the lives of all the quilters involved—both inside and
outside of Lincoln. "We feel a fellowship with everyone who sent
quilting blocks," explains quilter Carolyn Hinthorn.
"Fellowship is a good word," adds Doris Markwardt. "We’re
just one big family."
the quilters from around the world who sent their fabric squares also
feel the same kinship with one another. One woman from Holland
explained, "The thing I love most is being in touch with other
women from all over the world with the same interests." A woman
from Australia wrote, "Thank you for being a part of my life and
only has the quilt created a worldwide bond for many of the quilters,
it also has provided an opportunity to witness to others about the
purpose of the church and its Harvest of Talents. "It’s a good
vehicle for getting the news out of what the church is doing,"
before taking to the auction block at the Harvest of Talents, that
"vehicle" will stop at the Illinois State Fair, where it
will be on display beginning Aug. 11. "Now more people can learn
about the Harvest of Talents," says Donna.
you want to get a local glimpse of the millennium quilt, plan to
attend the Harvest of Talents on Oct. 28 at Lincoln Christian Church.
Or, for more information about the Harvest of Talents, contact the
church office at 217-732-7618.